Austin the Walkable
Austin was ranked as the 29th most walkable city
in the American Podiatric Medical Assoication's 2005 survey. The only other Texas city in the top 50 was Irving (44th). The survey examined the 200 largest cities based on census data for 14 criteria based on active lifestyles, work-related walking, and fitness and sports measures.
Three Texas cities ranked in the bottom 10%: El Paso (194), Brownsville (199), and Laredo (200). It is interesting that these are all border cities where there is significant pedestrian traffic across the bridges. However, California wins the couch potato prize with 11 cities in the bottom 10%.
Austin has strong advantages in several of the criteria used: athletic shoe buyers, hike/backpack, go to beaches, dog owners, baby stroller owners, golf index, play sports/exercise. Three of the categories, though, appear to overlap: walk for exercise, walking for health index, walk for fitness. Regardless, given the weight accorded to leisure related criteria (8 out of 14 criteria), it is not surprising that the border cities scored so low.
Interestingly, El Paso and San Antonio (132d in 2005) were both named as two of the twelve best walking cities in 2004
. Needless to say, different criteria were used. Other folks are grumbling
about the weighting of the criteria. So, there may well be changes for the 2006 survey.