Every year since 2011, Walk Score has released rankings of America's most walkable cities. Every year, Miami lands in the top ten. Every year, actual Miamians scratch their heads and think, Wait, that can't be right. I don't walk anywhere.
However, Walk Score, which is owned by online real-estate database company Redfin, remains undeterred in declaring Miami very walkable, and its latest rankings released today place Miami at its highest ranking ever. Miami (the city proper, not the greater metro area) is now the fifth most walkable city in America, Walk Score says, up three spots from its previous eighth-place ranking.
To come up with the rankings, Walk Score takes into account every American city with a population of 300,000 or more. "Walk Score analyzed over 10 million locations and computed more than 2 billion walking routes for 2,500 U.S. cities," a press release explains. "For the second year in a row, the Walk Score ranking uses the Street Smart Walk Score algorithm that incorporates walking routes, depth of choice, pedestrian friendliness, population, and neighborhood data,"
Miami's three-spot jump was the highest among the top ten cities.
“People can now walk where they used to have to drive, especially in neighborhoods like Wynwood and the Design District, where a lot of new restaurants and shopping and entertainment centers have opened up,” Aaron Drucker, Miami market manager for Redfin, said in a statement. “Even in traditionally walkable areas, like South Beach, public transportation is improving and becoming a more attractive option as parking rates and traffic are both on the rise.”
Yet Miami still doesn't quite have the pedestrian-friendly reputation as the rest of the top ten:
1 New York, 87.6
2 San Francisco, 83.9
3 Boston, 79.5
4 Philadelphia, 76.5
5 Miami, 75.6
6 Chicago, 74.8
7 Washington, D.C., 74.1
8 Seattle, 70.8
9 Oakland, 68.5
10 Baltimore, 66.2
Of course, in Miami there's the very real yet often-ignored oppressive-humidity factor. You may be able to walk places, but half the year you might end up drenched in sweat by the end of your stroll. However, that's trivial compared to the real problem.
Neighborhoods like Wynwood, the Design District, downtown, Little Havana, and Brickell are indeed very walkable. You can park your car and spend a whole day strolling between places, but the problem is that Miamians are still largely getting there by parking their cars in the first place.
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Easy public transportation between many of those neighborhoods remains either inconvenient or unattractive to many Miamians. Options for people coming in from the suburbs are even worse. Some people may take public transportation into the city for work, but very few will figure out the bus route that can take them from Coral Gables to Wynwood just for a night of fun.
Then again, that's not the point of Walk Score. It's owned by a real-estate firm after all, and the point is to show people neighborhoods where they could live and walk to a variety of places. So if you have a condo in Brickell, downtown, or Edgewater, you can take a quick stroll to a coffee shop, a few restaurants, and maybe even a grocery store, and that's certainly truer in more areas in Miami than ever before.
Which is to say that, depending upon where you live, you can walk to a lot of places in Miami, but that doesn't mean you can rely on it as one of your main forms of transportation.