When it comes to that new-age barometer of urban validity, Walk Score, Atlanta isn’t really making the grade.
In fact, with an overall 48 Walk Score—which means “most errands require a car” in such a “car-dependent city”—it could be said Atlanta is failing walkability class.
The news is even worse on the transit front, where Atlanta chalks up a 47 overall Transit Score. That falls into the unflattering realm of “some public transportation.”
Granted, a city of gracious homes, big yards, and beefy boulevards is never going to be Manhattan South, and part of Atlanta’s appeal is that it isn’t frenetically overpacked.
But if Atlanta’s going to step up and become a true powerhouse in America’s urbanizing future—after all, the metro’s expected to swell by nearly 3 million people by 2050, becoming more diverse along the way, per the Atlanta Regional Commission—we’ll probably have to do better than being “the 22nd most walkable large city in the U.S.,” per Walk Score.
All of that isn’t to say certain pockets of Atlanta don’t shine on the walk-o-meter right now.
So Atlanta might not boast any neighborhoods with straight-A, 100 Walk Scores—New York City, by way of unfair comparison, has nine of them—but it comes close.
Georgia State University, defined as a neighborhood, leads the way with a 96 Walk Score, and it ranks No. 1 on the transit front, too, with an 82.
Also in the walkability 90s are Peachtree Center (93), Buckhead Village (92), and Sweet Auburn (91). Midtown overall just misses that mark at 86.
That means Atlanta’s top five most walkable neighborhoods are downtown or adjacent to it. (Although Downtown Decatur (92) also clocks in as a “Walker’s Paradise.”)
In terms of Transit Scores, only two Atlanta ’hoods sniff the 80s: Georgia State University (82) and South Downtown (81).
Here’s a glance at Atlanta’s top 20, per Walk Score’s most recent analysis:
Per Walk Score, the company’s system of grading walkability in urban places has been validated by leading academic researchers, and it can be applied to any address.
Here’s the official, wonk-friendly word on methodology:
Walk Score measures the walkability of any address using a patented system. For each address, Walk Score analyzes hundreds of walking routes to nearby amenities. Points are awarded based on the distance to amenities in each category. Amenities within a five-minute walk (.25 miles) are given maximum points. A decay function is used to give points to more distant amenities, with no points given after a 30-minute walk.
Walk Score also measures pedestrian friendliness by analyzing population density and road metrics such as block length and intersection density. Data sources include Google, Factual, Great Schools, Open Street Map, the U.S. Census, Localeze, and places added by the Walk Score user community.