In a national ranking of walkable cities, Atlanta performed poorly, but better than its legions of sedentary misanthropes might expect. Walk Score slots Atlanta as the 20th most walkable of the top 50 U.S. cities, with an average score of 52.9 (NYC, San Fran, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia were the top five, in that order). As the study suggests, and as the Saporta Report points out, Atlanta has a long way to go, but significant strides are being made in downtown, Midtown, Buckhead and a few "enlightened town centers" that highlight "those endless subdivisions connected by roadways lined with strip centers that a former Charlotte, N.C. mayor once called: 'corridors of crap.'" Saporta calls attention to a new book, "Walkable City: How Downtown can save America", in which Atlanta is pretty much lambasted as the "bastion of sprawl and unbridled development" it's been for decades. But is that too broad a brush now?
The book's author, Jeff Speck, asserts that America's appreciation of walkability is only about a decade old. For Atlanta's benefit, Saporta writes, developers and economists have to keep sight of this: "The young and educated class prefer to live in walkable urban communities that provide a high quality of life. Also, as the baby boom generation gets older it also has been seeking more urban options that is not as dependent on the automobile."
Based on that, here's a snapshot of Atlanta 2023: A more pedestrian-friendly amalgam of coffee shops plump with web designers and guys in Greg Norman gear, lost in their quest for Chastain Park.
· A more walkable Atlanta equals a healthier and more prosperous city [Saporta Report]
· City and Neighborhood Walkability Rankings [WalkScore]