As Ithacans are well aware, one of the key advantages to living in Ithaca is its walkability. Proximity to groceries, pharmacy, work, etc. make downtown a convenient place to live, and one of the most common tools to measure this metric is the Walk Score® algorithm. Walk Score® uses several geographic data sources (primarily Google Maps/Places) to feed a formula that determines Walk Score ranking from 0 to 100 (0 being least walkable, 100 being most walkable). The more amenities within the immediate area (.25 mile radius accounting for street geography and various obstacles), the higher the Walk Score ranking. Although I couldn’t get the raw data from Walk Score®, I was able to get a heat map for Ithaca showing the walkability, and the average Walk Score ranking for the City of Ithaca’s roughly 30,000 inhabitants. Here’s how we compare with the major US cities with high Walk Score rankings:
From Walk Score’s Most Walkable Cities in the US
#1 New York with an 87.6
#2 San Francisco with an 83.9
#3 Boston with a 79.5
#4 Philadelphia with a 76.5
#5 Miami with a 75.6
Commuting-mode to work is also a very important metric. As shown in the chart below, based on the 2006-2010 American Community Survey, the City of Ithaca boasts a 41% share of walking to work (charts from the Ithaca-Tompkins County Transportation Council). Tompkins County as a whole has a very high walking ratio compared to the rest of the nation, as noted in a New York Times article a couple years ago- 15.1% of Tompkins County commuters walk to work, compared with a national average of 3.5%. On average nationwide, walking, cycling, and public transportation are vastly overshadowed by the private automobile.