City jumps from 10th to 7th most walkable city in nation; Also lands rank of 9th for most transit-friendly city
SOMERVILLE – According to 2014 national Walk Score ratings, Somerville is now the 7th most walkable city and the 9th most transit-friendly city in the nation, regardless of population size.
The new scores released in November reflect Somerville’s continued climb up the walkability charts, with the city rising three spots from number 10 last year to number 7 in the latest rankings—and with new Orange and Green Line MBTA stops on the horizon, the outlook is good for an ever higher transit-friendly score in the future as well.
Walkscore’s city page features scores for cities with populations above 250,000, but when all of the 2,978 cities ranked are considered, Somerville comes in as the 7th most walkable city in the nation just behind New York City (5th) and Cambridge, MA, (6th) (instructions for viewing scores below). Meanwhile, an analysis of the most recent Census data reveals that 12.5 percent of Somerville residents walk to work, the 11th highest percentage in the U.S. For transit, Somerville is ranked 9th in the nation according to Walk Score, and the latest Census data shows that 30.4 percent of residents take transit to work, the 7th highest percentage in the U.S.
Walk Score’s 2014 ranking marks the first time that the company used its new Street Smart Walk Score algorithm, calculating the Walk Score of every city block by analyzing walking routes, nearby amenities and pedestrian friendliness.
“It’s no surprise that Walk Score rates Somerville so highly under its improved methodology. As we’ve stated from day one—based on what the community has told us they value—we’re committed to making Somerville more walkable, bikeable and transit-oriented,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “It’s all about supporting an active lifestyle, building community and creating a sense of place. When we build crosswalks, inviting streetscapes, and bike routes, we’re creating urban rooms—active streetscapes supported by an active daytime population that support a resilient, self-sufficient economic base for our city. A walkable city means that residents can get their daily needs in their neighborhood without ever getting in a car, that local businesses get the foot traffic that’s essential for them to thrive, and that outside businesses want to invest here when they see a vibrant, active city with bustling streets.”
During Mayor Curtatone’s administration, the City of Somerville has committed to creating the most walkable, bikeable and transit-oriented city in the country. In the last three years, the City has updated or added pedestrian safety infrastructure such as street trees, curb bump-outs and ADA-accessible ramps, and begun work on the extension of the Somerville Community Path from its current end at Cedar Street to Lowell Street, with the City strongly advocating for the Path’s future extension to Boston. Under the new Neighborhood Street Reconstruction Program the City will use a data-driven methodology to improve street accessibility and safety for all users, balance transportation choices and foster a sense of community through smart design.
Somerville is also on the verge of a tremendous expansion of public transportation with the Assembly Square Orange Line stop scheduled to open in 2014 and the second phase of the Green Line Extension now funded, with the first two stops in Union Square and Brickbottom scheduled to open in 2017. The City continues to work collaboratively with residents, businesses and all stakeholders in achieving the goals outlined in the 20-year comprehensive SomerVision plan in building communities around these investments, through programs and initiatives such as the Somerville by Design series that create a consensus around the community’s vision.
The new Walk Score rankings come on the heels of The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NATCO) adding the City of Somerville to its prestigious affiliate member list, which includes just 18 member cities and 12 affiliate members nationwide. NACTO officials lauded Somerville for its commitment “to sustainable transportation initiatives, aiming to strengthen cities and improve quality of life through better street design and transportation policy.” Somerville was also recently recognized by the League of American Cyclists with a Silver level Bicycle Friendly Community Award, recognizing a significant step up from Bronze in only two years.