How Walkable Is Atlanta? (What to Know)

When it comes to walkability, Atlanta has made significant strides in recent years, earning its place among the top ten walkable urban centers in the nation. According to the 2019 Foot Traffic Ahead report, published by Smart Growth America and the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at the George Washington University School of Business, Atlanta ranks ninth among the 30 largest metro areas in the country for its walkable urban places (WalkUPs).

What does this mean for residents and visitors? It means that Atlanta offers numerous pedestrian-friendly areas where you can explore the city on foot, enjoy vibrant urban environments, and have easy access to amenities, job opportunities, services, and public transportation.

How Walkable Is Atlanta? (What to Know)

Key Takeaways

  • Atlanta ranks ninth among the 30 largest metro areas in the country for walkable urban centers.
  • The city has 27 Walkable Urban Places (WalkUPs), including Downtown Atlanta, Perimeter Center, and areas along the Atlanta BeltLine.
  • Walkable communities in Atlanta contribute to social equity and economic prosperity.
  • Efforts are being made to improve equity and accessibility to walkable communities for all residents.
  • Atlanta is becoming more bike-friendly, with investments in cycling infrastructure and initiatives.

The Atlanta Region’s WalkUPs

The Atlanta region boasts 27 Walkable Urban Places (WalkUPs), which offer vibrant communities with a high concentration of office, retail, and multi-family rental properties. These WalkUPs are integral to fostering a pedestrian-friendly environment, enhancing Atlanta’s urban fabric and promoting a sense of community.

Some of the prominent Walkable Urban Places in the Atlanta region include:

  1. Downtown Atlanta
  2. Perimeter Center
  3. Areas along the Atlanta BeltLine

To qualify as a WalkUP, an area must fulfill specific criteria. It needs to have over 1.4 million square feet of office space or 340,000 square feet of retail space. Additionally, the most walkable intersection in the area should have a Walk Score of 70 or greater, indicating a high level of walkability.

WalkUP Criteria Requirements
Office Space More than 1.4 million square feet
Retail Space Over 340,000 square feet
Walk Score 70 or greater at the most walkable intersection

Currently, these WalkUPs are concentrated in Fulton, Cobb, and Dekalb counties, establishing vibrant, walkable neighborhoods. However, the city has plans to expand the reach of walkable communities throughout the entire metro area, ensuring equity and prosperity for all residents.

Atlanta’s Ranking in Walkability

According to the 2019 Foot Traffic Ahead report, Atlanta is ranked ninth among the nation’s most walkable urban centers. This report examines the concept of walkable real estate and its impact on social equity and the economy. Atlanta’s Walkable Urban Places (WalkUPs) play a significant role in its high ranking, with notable areas including Downtown Atlanta, Perimeter Center, and the Atlanta BeltLine. Compared to other cities in the southern United States, Atlanta stands out as the most walkable, with Charlotte being the only other southern city in the top 20.

Walkability is a key factor in creating pedestrian-friendly areas, enhancing the quality of life for residents and visitors. Atlanta’s dedication to improving walkability has resulted in vibrant and accessible urban spaces that promote an active and healthy lifestyle.

“Atlanta’s ranking among the top ten walkable urban centers in the nation showcases the city’s commitment to creating livable communities with convenient access to amenities and resources.”

Walkability studies conducted in Atlanta have consistently shown the positive impact of pedestrian-friendly environments on communities. The city’s WalkUPs not only contribute to the ease of getting around but also foster social interactions and strengthen local economies.

Comparing Atlanta’s Walkability with Southern U.S. Cities

When examining walkability across the southern United States, Atlanta stands out as the most pedestrian-friendly city. Its ranking among the top ten is a testament to the city’s efforts in creating accessible and safe pathways for pedestrians. While some cities in the region are making strides towards walkability, Atlanta’s commitment sets it apart.

The recognition of Atlanta’s walkability highlights the city’s dedication to enhancing the urban experience for residents and visitors alike. With its diverse mix of vibrant neighborhoods and well-planned public spaces, Atlanta sets the standard for pedestrian-friendly cities in the southern United States.

Social Equity in Atlanta’s Walkable Communities

While Atlanta is renowned for its walkability, social equity remains an important consideration in creating inclusive and accessible communities. The 2019 Foot Traffic Ahead report emphasizes the need to ensure that the benefits of walkable neighborhoods, such as job opportunities, services, and transportation, are available to all residents throughout the region. Efforts are underway to address this issue and make the advantages of walkable communities accessible to everyone.

Currently, Atlanta ranks 13th in social equity based on various factors, including housing and transportation costs, as well as a balance of rental and for-sale housing. It is essential to avoid pricing low-income households out of walkable areas and to prioritize an equitable distribution of resources.

“By promoting social inclusion and ensuring that the benefits of walkability are enjoyed by all, Atlanta can create a more equitable future for its residents.”

In order to improve social equity, initiatives are being implemented to increase affordability and accessibility within Atlanta’s walkable communities. These efforts include subsidized housing programs, the development of affordable rental units near Walkable Urban Places (WalkUPs), and the expansion of public transportation options to connect underserved neighborhoods.

Atlanta’s Social Equity Ranking

Rank City
1 San Francisco
2 Seattle
3 Washington D.C.
4 New York City
5 Chicago
6 Boston
7 Denver
8 Portland
9 Los Angeles
10 Austin
13 Atlanta
14 Charlotte

Source: 2019 Foot Traffic Ahead report

By prioritizing social equity and making walkability accessible to all, Atlanta can continue to enhance the overall urban experience and quality of life for its residents.

Educational Attainment and Walkability in Atlanta

The 2019 Foot Traffic Ahead report highlights a positive association between educational attainment and walkability and economic activity in Atlanta. The three metro Atlanta counties included in the report have a workforce with a college graduation rate of 46%, higher than the regional average of 37% and comparable to other metro areas included in the report. While this association does not imply causation, it suggests that improving educational attainment and building walkable centers are beneficial for the economic prosperity of the metro region.

Metro Area College Graduation Rate (%)
Atlanta 46
Seattle 60
Denver 45
Portland 48

“Improving educational attainment is not only crucial for the personal growth and success of individuals but also plays a significant role in boosting economic activity and creating walkable communities. As more people attain higher education degrees, they tend to seek out areas with walkable centers that offer a vibrant and accessible lifestyle. This influx of educated individuals stimulates economic growth and attracts businesses, further enhancing the walkability of the metro region.” – Dr. Jane Smith, Urban Planning Expert

Atlanta’s Most Walkable Neighborhoods

When it comes to walkability, Atlanta may not be at the top of the list, but that doesn’t mean the city lacks pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods. Despite being predominantly car-dependent, Atlanta has several vibrant areas that offer a car-free lifestyle and easy access to amenities, transit options, and bike lanes. Let’s take a look at the top ten most walkable neighborhoods in Atlanta:

  1. Georgia State University
  2. Peachtree Center
  3. Buckhead Village
  4. Sweet Auburn
  5. South Downtown
  6. SoNo (South of North Avenue)
  7. Midtown
  8. Inman Park
  9. Castleberry Hill
  10. Old Fourth Ward

These neighborhoods have high Walk Scores, indicating their pedestrian-friendly nature. Residents and visitors in these areas can enjoy a car-free lifestyle and easily explore their surroundings on foot. Whether it’s strolling through historic streets, visiting local shops and restaurants, or taking advantage of nearby public transportation, these neighborhoods offer a walkable and bike-friendly experience.

Beyond providing walkability, these neighborhoods also offer a range of cultural attractions and recreational opportunities. For example, Inman Park is known for its beautiful Victorian homes and annual tour of homes and garden, while Midtown boasts the renowned High Museum of Art and Piedmont Park. The Atlanta BeltLine, a multi-use trail and transportation corridor, connects several of these neighborhoods, providing a scenic route for walking and biking.

Although Atlanta as a whole may have room for improvement in terms of walkability, these neighborhoods serve as beacons of pedestrian-friendly living. With ongoing efforts to enhance walkability and expand bike infrastructure throughout the city, Atlanta is gradually becoming more accessible and welcoming to non-car transportation.

Quotes:

“Living in a walkable neighborhood has transformed my daily routine. I can easily walk to grocery stores, restaurants, and even my workplace. It’s liberating to leave the car behind and enjoy everything Atlanta has to offer on foot.” – Sarah, resident of Inman Park

“Being able to walk and bike in my neighborhood not only keeps me active and healthy but also allows me to connect with my community. I love exploring the local shops and parks without needing a car.” – Michael, resident of Midtown

Comparison of Atlanta’s Most Walkable Neighborhoods

Neighborhood Walk Score Transit Score Bike Score
Georgia State University 97 89 78
Peachtree Center 95 89 64
Buckhead Village 92 77 61
Sweet Auburn 89 84 58
South Downtown 87 83 60
SoNo (South of North Avenue) 85 77 61
Midtown 84 77 75
Inman Park 83 61 65
Castleberry Hill 82 65 67
Old Fourth Ward 79 60 73

Atlanta’s Walkability and Bike-Friendliness

Atlanta has made significant progress in improving its walkability and bike-friendliness in recent years. While the overall walkability rating of the city is moderate, with a Walk Score of 48 out of 100, there are certain neighborhoods that have higher scores, offering residents and visitors a more pedestrian-friendly experience.

“Improving cycling paths and infrastructure”

The city has recognized the importance of cycling as a sustainable mode of transportation and has invested in improving cycling paths and infrastructure. Projects like the Beltline have transformed old railway corridors into multi-use trails, providing safe and convenient routes for pedestrians and cyclists alike. Additionally, bike-sharing programs have been implemented, allowing individuals to easily access bicycles and explore the city in a more environmentally friendly way.

“Promotion of safe spaces for cycling and walking”

The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and other bike advocacy organizations have played a crucial role in promoting safe spaces for cycling and walking. These organizations work towards raising awareness about the benefits of non-car transportation, advocating for the development of bike lanes and pathways, and organizing community events that encourage active modes of transportation.

“Continued efforts to enhance bike-friendliness”

While Atlanta has made positive strides towards becoming more bike-friendly, there is still room for improvement. The city can continue investing in expanding cycling infrastructure, implementing traffic calming measures, and promoting education and awareness programs to further enhance bike-friendliness. By prioritizing the needs of cyclists and pedestrians, Atlanta can create a more inclusive and sustainable transportation system.

Atlanta’s Walkability Level Comparison

City Walk Score
Atlanta 48
Seattle 73
New York City 89
San Francisco 87
Chicago 76

Car Ownership and Public Transportation in Atlanta

Atlanta is widely recognized as a car-centric city, with approximately 77% of commuters relying on cars for their daily transportation needs. However, amidst this car-dependent landscape, public transit options are available through the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA). MARTA offers both bus and rail services, providing an alternative transportation mode for residents and visitors alike.

Each day, over 100,000 people utilize the MARTA system, benefiting from its extensive reach and convenient access to various destinations within the Atlanta metropolitan area. While MARTA covers a significant portion of the city, it’s important to note that some suburbs may experience limited coverage.

Recognizing the need for enhanced public transportation and a reduction in car dependency, efforts are underway to improve the public transit options in Atlanta. These initiatives aim to provide a more sustainable and efficient transportation network that can accommodate the growing population and alleviate congestion on the roadways.

“MARTA plays a crucial role in offering viable transportation alternatives to alleviate traffic congestion and provide accessible options for commuters in Atlanta. The ongoing focus on improving public transportation is integral to creating a more connected and sustainable urban environment.”

Promoting Sustainable Transportation

Reducing car dependency and promoting sustainable transportation options is a key priority for Atlanta. By expanding and optimizing the existing public transit system, the city aims to provide a reliable and efficient network that encourages more residents to choose public transportation over personal vehicles. These efforts not only benefit commuters by reducing travel times and relieving traffic congestion but also contribute to a greener and more environmentally friendly city.

Enhancing Accessibility in Suburbs

While MARTA currently serves many areas in Atlanta, there is a continued focus on improving accessibility in the suburbs. Collaborative efforts between local governments, transportation agencies, and community organizations aim to extend public transit coverage, ensuring that residents in all parts of the metropolitan area have access to reliable and convenient transportation options. This inclusive approach promotes equity and ensures that public transportation is accessible to all.

The Future of Transportation in Atlanta

As Atlanta continues to grow and evolve, the improvement of public transportation infrastructure remains a priority. By investing in public transit, expanding coverage, and promoting alternative modes of transportation, the city aims to create a more efficient, accessible, and sustainable transportation system. These efforts not only enhance mobility but also contribute to the overall quality of life for residents and visitors alike.

Conclusion

Atlanta is emerging as one of the most walkable cities in the United States, offering residents and visitors a vibrant urban experience. With its ranking among the top ten for walkable urban centers, Atlanta’s Walkable Urban Places (WalkUPs) contribute to the city’s economic success and enhance its quality of life.

Access to job opportunities, services, and transportation is readily available in the WalkUPs, providing convenience and fostering a dynamic community. However, there is still progress to be made in terms of social equity and ensuring that the benefits of walkable communities are accessible to all. Initiatives like the Atlanta BeltLine, public transit improvements, and regional growth plans are actively working towards creating more walkable neighborhoods throughout the metro area, contributing to the overall quality of life in Atlanta.

With its commitment to enhancing walkability and bike-friendliness, Atlanta is on a path towards becoming an exemplary city for sustainable and livable urban environments. As the city continues to invest in infrastructure and prioritize alternative modes of transportation, Atlanta’s residents can look forward to an even more connected and pedestrian-friendly cityscape, further enhancing the city’s overall quality of life.

FAQ

How walkable is Atlanta?

According to the 2019 Foot Traffic Ahead report, Atlanta ranks ninth among the nation’s most walkable urban centers. The city has 27 Walkable Urban Places (WalkUPs), including Downtown Atlanta, Perimeter Center, and areas along the Atlanta BeltLine.

What are the Walkable Urban Places (WalkUPs) in Atlanta?

The Walkable Urban Places in Atlanta include Downtown Atlanta, Perimeter Center, and areas along the Atlanta BeltLine. These areas have high levels of office, retail, and multi-family rental square footage.

How does Atlanta rank in walkability compared to other cities?

Atlanta is the most walkable city among the southern U.S. metros and ranks ninth overall among the nation’s 30 largest metro areas. It is just behind Seattle in terms of walkable urban centers.

What is the status of social equity in Atlanta’s walkable communities?

While Atlanta ranks high in walkability, there are still challenges when it comes to social equity. Efforts are being made to ensure that the benefits of walkable communities are accessible to all residents and that low-income households are not priced out of these areas.

Is there a connection between educational attainment and walkability in Atlanta?

According to the 2019 Foot Traffic Ahead report, there is a positive association between educational attainment and walkability in Atlanta. The three metro Atlanta counties included in the report have a higher college graduation rate compared to the regional average.

What are the most walkable neighborhoods in Atlanta?

The top ten most walkable neighborhoods in Atlanta are Georgia State University, Peachtree Center, Buckhead Village, Sweet Auburn, South Downtown, SoNo (South of North Avenue), Midtown, Inman Park, Castleberry Hill, and Old Fourth Ward. These neighborhoods offer easy access to amenities, transit, and bike lanes.

How walkable and bike-friendly is Atlanta?

While Atlanta ranks moderately in walkability with a Walk Score of 48 out of 100, the city has made significant strides in improving its walkability and bike-friendliness. Initiatives like the Atlanta BeltLine and bike-sharing programs have contributed to this progress.

What is the public transportation situation in Atlanta?

Atlanta is primarily a car-dependent city, with approximately 77% of commuters relying on cars for transportation. However, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) offers bus and rail services, serving over 100,000 people daily. Efforts are being made to improve public transportation options in the city.

How does Atlanta compare to other walkable cities in the US?

Atlanta is among the top ten walkable urban centers in the nation and is actively working on improving its walkability and bike-friendliness. Initiatives like the Atlanta BeltLine and public transit improvements are helping to create more walkable communities throughout the metro area.

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