Residents of the university hub, Cambridge, Massachusetts, walk more than anyone else.

Next are the fine people of Columbia, South Carolina.

Berkeley, California

Ann Arbor, Michigan


Provo, Utah

Washington, D.C.

New Haven, Connecticut

Syracuse, New York

Providence, Rhode Island



These Are The Cities Where People Walk The Most

Either walking makes you smart, or smart people walk a lot.

Want to walk to work? You might consider living in a college town. They dominate a new list of the places where commuters walk to work most.

Cambridge, Massachusetts, home to Harvard, MIT, and other universities, tops the list. About a quarter of residents walk to work, according to an analysis by Governing magazine using census data. Columbia, South Carolina (home to USC) is next, with more than a fifth of people walking. After that comes Berkeley, California (18.1% walkers), and Ann Arbor, Michigan (15.5%), where the University of Michigan is located.

Governing says college towns tend to have higher numbers of people under 25, who are more likely to walk. But the top cities in the list are also working to create environments conducive to pedestrians, and don't privilege cars unduly.

Check out the magazine's analysis plotted on the map above, with bigger bubbles indicating where walkers make up a greater share of commuters.

Many cities have been trying to improve walkability amid evidence that more people want to live in walkable environments. Governing also identified those places with the greatest improvements in walking share. Fayetteville, North Carolina, Portland, Oregon, Boston, Atlanta and Cleveland saw the greatest increases between 2007 and 2012. Atlanta, for example, went from 3.8% to 5.9%. (The data doesn't include people walking to transit stops, just completed journeys on foot). Cities in Arizona and Texas had some of the lowest levels of walking. Arlington and San Antonio were both under 2%, reflecting their car-centric planning.

Top 10 cities by % of people walking:

  1. Cambridge, Massachusetts
  2. Columbia, South Carolina
  3. Berkeley, California
  4. Ann Arbor, Michigan
  5. Boston
  6. Provo, Utah
  7. Washington, D.C.
  8. New Haven, Connecticut
  9. Syracuse, New York
  10. Providence, Rhode Island

Governing's analysis offers a different perspective to, say, Walk Score's, which measures walkability (as opposed to whether people walk). Its most recent rankings had New York City, San Francisco, and Boston as its three most walkable large cities.

Cambridge has an overall Walk Score of 87, classifying it as "very walkable" (one rung below the very top category). On the other hand, it has several neighborhoods ranking as the most walkable urban areas in the country.

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  • I live in college town/supposedly-eco-friendly Boulder, and I am absolutely the only person I know who walks anywhere, or uses public transportation (although I own a car). And my friends don't get it at all. Walking cities are the most sustainable and the most livable, and walking is easy exercise. I wish more people understood that.

  • Erica Lombardi

    I'm guessing crime rate wasn't factored otherwise I don't think ew Haven would have made it.

  • Joanne Stiles

    You really want to walk? Go to Tokyo. You will wear out the soles on a pair of shoes in less than three months!

  • Marisa Rachel Swanson

    I grew up in Ann Arbor and I've also lived in New York for several years, and let me tell you there is way more walking going on there than in AA. I fail to see how NYC did not make this list. Or Boston, for that matter.

    Seems more like a ranking of walking in college towns and nowhere else. I think the amount of walking should be taken into play as well. A college campus has buses and buildings relatively near to each other. Of course the U of M is spread throughout AA, and in that case students are taking the bus b/n North Campus and the rest of it; Otherwise just walking a handful of minutes here and there between buildings and dorms. Or catching rides with students who have cars because many do.

    In Brooklyn alone you can easily be forced to walk a mile or more between train stations or neighborhoods in the absence of having a car. Just sayin'

  • Boston made the list. also, Cambridge is Boston so Boston actually made the top 10 twice... Since you didnt see that it can be inferred that you didnt read the article at all, much less the part that said NYC was one of the "3 most walkable" cities.

  • Emily Ryzak

    Cambridge is not Boston. It is a completely separate city on the other side of the river.

  • Living in Boston and wanting to have more of a "European Lifestyle", walking to work is part of that lifestyle. I see more and more Bostonians walking and biking to work. It's more of a mindset now than ever before. It would be interesting to compare these stats to those of European cities.