SkyscraperCity banner

1 - 20 of 366 Posts

·
Channelside Pioneer
Joined
·
656 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Interesting read from MSNBC. Wonder what the reasons are for Tampa being so much lower than Miami, and even lower than Orlando?

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22097393/

D.C. region named most ‘walkable’ in U.S.
Rail transit and better planning key to walkability, report finds

Jacquelyn Martin / ASSOCIATED PRESS

ARLINGTON, Va. - Caitlin Jones and her fiance, Evan Oxfeld, grew up in suburbs where getting anywhere worth going required a car. When the couple started looking for their first home together, they wanted something different: walkability.

"For me at least, that was the thing I missed most about college -- just being able to walk everywhere," Oxfeld said as he and Jones strolled through Arlington's Ballston neighborhood, where they are moving into a condo.

Young professionals like Jones and Oxfeld, both 24, are driving a national trend toward more walkable communities, says the author of a report to be released Tuesday by the Brookings Institution. The report ranks the Washington region first among the country's major metropolitan areas in the number of "walkable places" per capita, thanks to changes in just the past 15 years.

Christopher B. Leinberger, a real estate developer and visiting fellow at Brookings, set out to quantify the walkability trend by counting the number of "regional-serving walkable urban places" in each of the 30 biggest metropolitan areas in the country. "Regional-serving" means the place is not just a bedroom community, but has jobs, retail or cultural institutions that bring in people who don't live there.

Collective amnesia
Leinberger, who also teaches urban planning at the University of Michigan, counted 157 such "walkable places," including Boston's Beacon Hill, Miami's Coconut Grove and the Houston area's Sugar Land Town Square, one of many built-from-scratch "lifestyle centers" to make the list. The Tampa, Fla., area was the only one without a single place on his list.

Leinberger counted only places where significant subsidies are no longer required to spur development. He predicted that many more -- such as downtown Detroit and Crossroads in Kansas City, Mo. -- would reach that point within the next decade.

Walkable cities have been around for centuries, but Leinberger argues that after the rise of the automobile, planners and real estate developers hit on the lucrative suburban strip-mall formula and stuck to it.

"For 50 years we had this collective amnesia about how to build great places," said Leinberger, whose institution describes itself as a nonprofit public-policy organization.

The New York area had the highest number of walkable urban places in Leinberger's survey. Most of the 21 places he listed are neighborhoods in Manhattan.

But the Washington region, with 20 walkable places, outranked New York on a per-capita basis, and Leinberger says it could serve as a national model. It has one walkable place for every 264,000 people.

"Today there are 20 that are at or near critical mass, downtown just being one of them," Leinberger said. "Twenty years ago there were two."

Rail transit key
The new additions include District of Columbia neighborhoods such as the West End area near George Washington University, and the revitalized Capitol Hill.

Across the Potomac River in Virginia, Arlington County has seven places on the list, including Ballston.

Leinberger attaches one major caveat to his report: The survey did not take into account the size of each walkable place. For example, midtown Manhattan is given the same weight as Reston Town Center, a lifestyle center outside Washington, even though the latter has only a tiny fraction of the office and retail space, residential units, and hotel rooms of midtown.

Leinberger attributes Washington's success with walkability to several factors, including a large population of 20- and 30-somethings and recent strong economic growth. But the chief factor, he said, is the success of the Metro. The 31-year-old rail system has transformed the region, shaping development and making the walkable urban model more viable.

Leinberger calls rail transit a key factor in the success of walkable places. Roughly two-thirds of the 157 places he counted are served by rail, he said.

One big mistake
Good planning also helped in the Washington region, particularly in Arlington, Leinberger said.

When the Metro was being built, county officials lobbied to put their portion underground along a central commercial road, rather than above ground and along the interstate. The county then loosened zoning regulations around each Metro stop, a policy that gave rise to "urban villages" such as Ballston.

Oxfeld, a software engineer, and Jones, an academic counselor at Georgetown University, said proximity to the Metro was a key factor in their decision to live in Ballston. They also like being able to walk to restaurants and shops and the main branch of the Arlington Public Library.

Walking among Ballston's tall buildings recently, Leinberger praised the mix of commercial and residential spaces, the picturesque courtyards, and the use of underground parking instead of surface lots.

The one big mistake is Ballston Commons Mall, a suburban-style mall that has failed to attract many national retailers, Leinberger said.

Even Ballston's boosters agree with that assessment.

"It seemed to be the right answer at the time. It does not work today," said Julie Mangis, executive director of the Ballston-Virginia Square Partnership. The group wants to encourage more retail across the entire neighborhood, she said, which compared with some other sections of Arlington is weighted heavily toward offices.

Leinberger predicted retail options would improve as the area's population continues to grow.

And if Ballston's sparkling new buildings seem a little too sparkling and new, well, that is bound to change, too, he said.

"This has some character, and it's only going to get better with time," Leinberger said. "Rome wasn't built in a day, and it certainly didn't get the patina of Rome in much less than a couple of centuries."

Walkable cities
A Brookings Institution survey ranks the 30 biggest metropolitan areas according to the number of “walkable urban places” relative to the area’s population:

1. Washington
2. Boston
3. San Francisco
4. Denver
5. Portland, Ore.
6. Seattle
7. Chicago
8. Miami
9. Pittsburgh
10. New York
11. San Diego
12. Los Angeles
13. Philadelphia
14. Atlanta
15. Baltimore
16. St. Louis
17. Minneapolis
18. Detroit
19. Columbus, Ohio
20. Las Vegas
21. Houston
22. San Antonio
23. Kansas City, Mo.
24. Orlando, Fla.
25. Dallas
26. Phoenix
27. Sacramento, Calif.
28. Cincinnati
29. Cleveland
30. Tampa, Fla. :eek:hno:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,967 Posts
Let's see...

Not enough sidewalks on many streets
Inaccurate Wayfinding signs in Downtown (they still haven't replaced them yet :eek:hno:)
Mass Transit sucks

Those are just a couple. I don't know any others...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,398 Posts
I can see why we are so low....but NY and Philadelphia below Miami? That does not make sense. NY has a HUGE transit system and a great walkable city throughout most of it...And Philadelphia number 13? Philly has the most people in a major city that walk from home to work, not to mention a good transit system....they should be way higher on the list. I would like to know more exact details of the study criteria.

Steve
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,228 Posts
You know, thinking about this a bit -- I look at Kennedy Boulevard alone and I can see why Tampa has a low walkability score. We always talk on the site about "Downtown" but it extends further from the core (west and east) than many people realize.

I bring up Kennedy because you can look at the sidewalks and the businesses and see it isn't designed at all for foot traffic. Small sidewalks that aren't very wide, with telephone poles and other infrastructure in the middle of them. Most retail space is constructed in the suburban sense -- plenty of parking out front and the business in the rear of the lot. The entire approach to the CBD on Kennedy is much like the CBD design period: get automotive traffic in and out of downtown.

Tampa, as a city, feels too much like a suburb. That's the same problem with St. Petersburg -- oh, active downtown but much more residentially than like a fully functioning city. Suburbs and ex-burbs don't have walkability. They focus on drivers getting in and out... with businesses along the way in and out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
904 Posts
I'm sorry, but there's NO WAY IN HELL Miami is a more "walkable" city than New York. The fact that their algorithm put Miami ahead of NY shows that there's something fundamentally wrong with it. Miami might have more "region-serving walkable urban places", but just try living in Miami without a car for 6 months. Sure, you can do it... but it really, really sucks, and your quality of life will be compromised in petty and profound ways every single day. It's not quite as bad if you're on vacation and staying in South Beach (no need to worry or care about commuting), or a little old lady whose entire world exists within Little Havana, but for anyone else... it's not going to be fun.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,967 Posts
Life around Tampa Bay is no walk in the park -- or to it
A survey of the nation's "walkable urban places" ranks the Tampa Bay area as poorest.
By JANET ZINK, Times Staff Writer
Published December 5, 2007


Cars have the run of downtown Tampa, but pedestrians are not so lucky. "We have allowed cars to dominate our urban form," said Tampa City Council member Linda Saul-Sena


TAMPA -- Picture a place where you can step out of your home and walk to work, to a coffee shop, an art gallery, the gym.

That picture will not include anywhere in Tampa Bay, according to a new study that ranks the area dead last for walkability in a survey of 30 major metropolitan areas.

"I am so sorry," said Christopher Leinberger, a developer and visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, a public policy think tank. "I am not trying to be harsh on anybody. You all are moving in the right direction. Your downtowns just haven't reached critical mass. But they will."

The survey looked at which cities have the largest number of "walkable urban places" per capita, defined as compact areas in cities and suburbs that put residents within walking distance of work, entertainment venues, schools and shopping. Every city on the list has at least one success story.

Top-ranked Washington, D.C., has Georgetown. Boston, No. 2 on the list, has Harvard Square. The Miami area, in eighth place, has Coral Gables.

The Tampa area has nothing, according to Leinberger.

"The issue is, can you basically walk to local services? Can you walk to a great restaurant, can you walk to work?" said Leinberger, who also directs the graduate real estate program at the University of Michigan.

Most people aren't willing to trek more than five or 10 blocks to reach a destination, he said, so they hop in a car.

The news is no surprise to some city leaders.

"Overall, he's correct. We have allowed cars to dominate our urban form," said Tampa City Council member Linda Saul-Sena, a longtime champion of transforming the city into a place where people wear out their shoes before their tires.

"It's painful," she said. "To be recognized in a national survey as a terrible place for pedestrians is really discouraging."

As steps in the right direction, she cites spending money on sidewalks, plans for bus rapid transit and the development of mixed-use neighborhoods like the Channel District near downtown.

And she says Davis Islands, where she lives, is one of the city's most walkable neighborhoods, with restaurants and a few shops reachable on foot.

But the neighborhood lacks a convenient grocery store and has just a handful of offices.

The South Howard Avenue neighborhood has streets lined with restaurants, grocery stores and shops, but sidewalks end abruptly.

"We have a lot of work to do," Saul-Sena said.

St. Petersburg City Council member Jeff Danner defended his downtown.

"It's packed with people. It's easier to walk than drive. The cars are at gridlock, and people are moving freely," he said. "There's considerably more residential property downtown than there was 10 years ago, and of course a lot more than downtown Tampa, and integrated right in. You can take an elevator down to the retail."

Leinberger's study notes that most cities with lots of walkable neighborhoods have a rail system in place, and he commended the Tampa Bay area for looking at such a system.

"The question is, have you paid for it?" he said.

Ron Rotella, executive director of the Westshore Alliance, said the large business district is working to improve walkability and increase funding for public transportation. He wants the city to approve using transportation impact fees collected there to help pay for public transit.

As it is now, he said, the business district is nearly impossible to navigate on foot. He said he sees people waiting and watching cars go by as they try to cross West Shore Boulevard.

"They finally get frustrated and just step out into the traffic and cross the street," he said.

It's not the first time Tampa has been rapped for its mean streets. A 2004 survey determined pedestrians in the Tampa Bay area take their lives in their hands more than in any other metro area in the country except Orlando.

Janet Zink can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3401.

[Last modified December 4, 2007, 23:52:59]

http://www.sptimes.com/2007/12/05/Hillsborough/Life_around_Tampa_Bay.shtml
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,740 Posts
It's a bad list, but that doesn't mean Tampa is walkable. I'd rank it above Orlando, but pretty far below Miami. I've walked in all 3. I'd put Miami far below places like Philadelphia, New York or Baltimore though. I don't think we have it right either, but the density advantage we have certainly helps when comparing to the rest of the sunbelt.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,398 Posts
An explanation of why NY (and other large metro areas) rates so low:

(from the study "Footloose and Fancy Free" by Christopher B. Leinberger) - the study sited in the above articles.

"The most important caveat which needs to be corrected in future surveys relates to the lack of a meaningful measure of the size of each walkable urban place. The walkable urban places in New York are among the largest in the country; for example, Midtown Manhattan has over 300 million square feet of office space, tens of thousands of residential units and hotel rooms and millions of square feet of retail; by far the largest walkable urban place in the country. Yet in the survey calculation of the number of walkable urban places per capita, Midtown Manhattan is weighed the same as Reston Town Center in Washington, DC, which probably has around 1/30th of the office, residential, hotels and retail space. Therefore, size criteria need to be incorporated into the survey in the future."


The full study can be found here:http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Files/rc/papers/2007/1128_walkableurbanism_leinberg/1128_walkableurbanism_leinberger.pdf
Steve
 

·
Senior Button Pusher
Joined
·
17,148 Posts
^Yep, his algo is a joke. It ranks per capita (why?) and doesn't take sizes of "walkable places" into account. Tampa isn't walkable, but this article is rubbish.
totally agreed. His methodology would make any scientific journal laugh... hard.



Rail transit and better planning key to walkability, report finds
Oh, and Tampa's ranking should definitely be near the bottom of this list. We have neither a sound transit plan or sound planning, and the area annually competes with a depopulated Detroit for the national title of most decentralized and spread out metro area.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
639 Posts
How can Tampanians think Tampa's more walkable than Orlando. O-Town has a much superior regional bus system for starters. Also, Orlando has many more walkable communities which is what the study refers to. Here's a small list for starters: Downtown ORL, Downtown Winter Park, Thornton Park, College Park, Baldwin Park, I-Drive, the list goes on and on. Sure a lot of folks walk up and down and in Fletcher but it sure isn't pedestrian friendly.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,398 Posts
Not to start comparisons, but...Tampa has DT Tampa, Hyde Park, Channelside area, Ybor City, DT St. Pete, DT/beach area Clearwater, as you say, the list goes on and on. Lets face it, both cities suck when it comes to transit and walkability, I personally would place them as equal on the scale. The only major city in Florida that would be better would be Miami, they have real transit and several major walkable areas. I can't speak for the bus service in Orlando, but at least Tampa has the TECO line, but Orlando will have better transit when the CFRail opens, which is better than our 2.5 mile starter line.
Steve
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
76 Posts
The study is obviously flawed. I wonder what criteria that was used to determine what is a "walkable community". It's a live/work community. It's extremely pedestrian friendly. It has plenty of entertainment and cultural options withing walking distance. And yet it wasn't included in the list. Orlando's Winter Park was in the list. I have been to Winter Park. It isn't any more walkable than Tampa's Ybor.
 

·
Senior Button Pusher
Joined
·
17,148 Posts
Not to start comparisons, but...Tampa has DT Tampa, Hyde Park, Channelside area, Ybor City, DT St. Pete, DT/beach area Clearwater, as you say, the list goes on and on.
According to the standard of measure used for this study, Tampa's list doesn't go on. In fact, Tampa didn't even have a list, it was so sorry.

This should be a wakeup call to locals, not a reason to act like we live in some great place. If it's so great, then why are people increasingly choosing to live some place else?
 
1 - 20 of 366 Posts
Top