The Infrastructurist sums up some recent research that shows Americans walk less than residents of other countries. Explaining why this is the case is interesting:
The report’s lead author, David R. Bassett of the University of Tennessee, blames America’s poor performance on its auto obsession and lack of public transportation…
The researchers found no association between daily steps and living environment (e.g. urban, suburban, or rural)…
For the year 2009 alone, the top five walking commuter cities were Boston (14.1 percent commuted by foot), Washington (11.1), San Francisco (10.3), New York (10.3), and Philadelphia (8.7). The city with the lowest commuter walking share for the year was Fort Worth, at 1.2 percent. Freemark comments:
“As the chart shows, automobiles have a majority share in all cities except New York, Boston, Washington, and San Francisco. Unsurprisingly, these are dense cities and the places in the United States with the most complete transit systems.
These arguments make sense at face value: driving and setting would seem to play a large role. However, the first research study’s finding about driving may indicate that driving just trumps other factors for most Americans: whether Americans live in cities or suburbs or rural areas, driving is the preferred mode of transit.
Additionally, perhaps the number of people living in large cities with established and effective mass transit (the five top walking cities cited above) is simply not enough to counter all the drivers in other places.