And The Most Walkable City In San Diego County Is... And The Most Walkable City In San Diego County Is...

And The Most Walkable City In San Diego County Is...

by Jim Stone

May 26, 2013

WalkSanDiego achieved a major milestone last fall with the release of the Regional Walk Scorecard. Cities throughout San Diego County were rated based on three factors: 1) policies and infrastructure that support walking; 2) the number of collisions involving pedestrians; and 3) data from more than 1,500 walk audits conducted by volunteers armed with WalkSanDiego’s new “BestWALK” phone app. The Scorecard is sponsored by Sharp Health Plan.
The Results
National City edged out La Mesa and Solana Beach for the highest score—for several reasons. First, National City's recently updated General Plan includes strong policies and plans favoring walking, biking, and transit use. In addition, the city is laid out in a typical pre-war grid pattern—a dense network of lower volume streets and a mix of destinations and transit stops within walking distance of most residences. A high number of residents who walk or use transit to get to work also helped boost their score.
La Mesa also has a walkable street pattern and detailed policies that will increase walkability in the coming years. In addition, La Mesa has aggressively implemented pedestrian improvements in key areas. Solana Beach, the third-ranked city, scored in the middle of the pack on policies and implementation and had the lowest percentage of walk/transit commuters. However, Solana Beach streets received high marks by BestWALK volunteers and the low number of pedestrian collisions in the region has raised its overall score.

Why A Regional Walk Scorecard?
What compelled WalkSanDiego to create the Regional Walk Scorecard? With our climate, San Diego should be one of America’s most walkable regions, but we’re not. Among the country’s largest 50 regions, we don’t even finish in the top 10 according to Walk Score, a walkability index that assigns a numerical walkability score to every U.S. address.
Of greater concern, the San Diego metropolitan area has the fifth highest pedestrian fatality rate as a percentage of traffic deaths in the country. We developed the Scorecard to bring attention and awareness to the issue of walking and walkability. Beyond that, the Scorecard can serve as a tool to guide cities to make improvements in policies and infrastructure to make their streets and neighborhoods more walkable.
What’s Next?
WalkSanDiego has begun reaching out to our local governments to provide detailed information from the Scorecard to show what changes can be made to improve walkability in both the short and long term. With this year’s top score reaching only 63 out of 100 possible points, there are many ways to improve. We hope the Scorecard will create a friendly competition among cities to improve their standing in the rankings. Another set of ratings will be issued next year; but, in the meantime, WalkSanDiego is encouraging residents from around the county to download the BestWALK phone app (available for AndroidiPhone) and rate streets in their city for next year’s competition.

The Scoring Framework
1. Status of Walking Index: Combines two indicators: (a) the total percent of residents who commute by walking or transit, and (b) the pedestrian collision rate calculated per population and per miles of street.
2. Policies and Implementation: Considers the relative strength of local policies and related data in 12 policy areas critical to enhancing walkability. 
3. BestWalk Field Data: A smart phone application (BestWALK) allowed residents across the region to collect and upload data regarding the walkability of streets and intersections.

This post is part of the GOOD community's 50 Building Blocks of Citizenship—weekly steps to being an active, engaged global citizen. This week: Walk 30 Minutes a Day. Follow along and join the conversation at and on Twitter at #goodcitizen.

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And The Most Walkable City In San Diego County Is...