Thursday, September 29, 2011

Somerville Named 10th Most Walkable City in the Nation

Yes, you can get there from here...and on foot too. Among communities with a population of 70,000 or more, Somerville was recently rated the 5th most walkable community nationwide by Somerville ranked 10th overall, just behind San Francisco, Calif., which took the top score in 2008.

So what's walkable? measures the ease of car-free living in communities nationwide using a "Walk Score" algorithm that awards points based on the distance to amenities such as grocery stores, schools, and parks. Only amenities within .25 to 1 mile are considered within walking distance and those within .25 miles are awarded the most points and no points are awarded for amenities further than one mile.

According to the website, 100% of Somerville residents received a walk score of at least 70: "Very walkable - most errands can be accomplished on foot." Similarly, 0% of residents were found to live in a car-dependent neighborhood.

As part of City's committment to public transit and walkable and bikeable neighborhoods, Somerville has carried out numerous infrastructure improvement projects including new and better marked crosswalks, new bike lanes and sharrows, the new Orange Line stop coming to Assembly Square, and push for the Green Line Extension.

"I am so proud that our efforts have been recognized," said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. "However this does not mean we will become complacent. We painted 10 miles of bike lanes and sharrows in 2010, 11 miles in 2011, and we're looking forward to continuing to add or improve upon our existing infrastructure in the months and years to come."

Of the cities numerous neighborhoods, Davis Square, Union Square, and segments of Broadway appear to have the highest walk scores, while Ten Hills and portions of Ward 7 tend to be more car dependent.

"Coincidentally, one of the neighborhoods in West Somerville with the lowest - but still 'very walkable' - score is one that would serve as the final stop on the Green Line Extension," Mayor Curtatone said.

For the Most Walkable Cities list, you need to follow a few steps (pun ruthlessly intended):
  1. Go to
  2. Once there, adjust the population slider to cities over 70,000 or all communities.
  3. Click the "Walk Score" column to order commmunities by their score.
  4. Revel in seeing your city so close to the top of the list.
  5. Go for a walk to celebrate.


  1. It looks like Boston and Cambridge have an unfair advantage in the neighborhood rankings. Walkscore gets its neighborhood boundaries from, and in their absence, falls back onto zip codes. Somerville zip codes do not neatly map onto neighborhoods.

    Somerville could easily place in the neighborhood rankings simply by convincing to code in some neighborhoods for the city. suggests there is no particular reason why this should not happen: "We've identified several neighborhoods in the most populated cities, and we admit that we don't have them all. But we're adding them all the time, so come back." Maybe the city could suggest some?

  2. Very interesting point, Anonymous. I will forward this to our Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development, and ask them to do this. Thanks!


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