Street Smarts: Making the Most of Walkable and Bikable Cities

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Making the Most of Walkable and Bikable Cities

With gas prices as high as they are, those who are fortunate enough to live in cities that are accessible for pedestrians and bikers are relieved to have these travel options at hand.

Although they may not have to worry about owning a vehicle and its associated costs, they may have their own problems. Walking around a busy city as a distracted pedestrian is still dangerous and can give way to a new financial burden: medical bills.

America is well-known for loving cars and the freedom that comes with them. However, some major cities still follow in the footsteps of other cities worldwide that embrace the more intimate means of walking and biking.

Let’s look at some of those cities, as well as those that aren’t as pedestrian friendly.

The Health (and Financial) Benefits of Walking and Biking

Biking and walking around a busy city or your local area certainly comes with health benefits, but it also helps you accomplish something else: avoiding overspending.

If you bike or walk everywhere, chances are you don’t have to deal with the costs of buying a car, repairing the car, purchasing gas, and insuring the car.

The Monthly Price of Automobile Ownership

Credit Karma says the average monthly cost of owning a car is about $1,000. The total doesn’t even include extra expenses such as registration or parking fees.

Having a car gives owners the freedom to travel wherever they desire, but as you can see, freedom comes with a price.

A bike will have some costs of its own, such as the price of the bicycle and the protective gear you should wear while riding, but overall, it’s much cheaper than owning a car.

The Health Benefits of Walking and Biking

As you can imagine, walking and biking are great for your physical and mental health. Burning non-essential fats by taking your bike or heading out on foot will go a long way.

Physical activity can help you save money in the long run by minimizing the risks of unexpected health concerns and accidents. Therefore, traveling by bike or on foot can even help you keep medical expenses low as long as you stay situationally aware.

Making the Most of Walkable and Bikable Cities

Cities That Encourage Walking and Cycling

As we become more aware of climate change, many cities are embracing the old-school traveling methods of walking and biking.

In addition to several most-walkable U.S. cities, here are some cities around the world that are bike and pedestrian-friendly.

  • Barcelona, Spain: Due to its extremely high traffic density, the city created the Superblock, an urban mobility plan. Each Superblock comprises nine city blocks where traffic is rerouted around the perimeter and slowed down. The rules encourage people to walk or bike and provide the city with lots of greenery.
  • Davis, California: Although this is a relatively small city, it has more than 100 miles of bike lanes and paths. There are also overpasses, underpasses, street lanes, and traffic signals dedicated to bikers. Traffic laws and regulations are also tailored to cyclists.
  • Montreal, Canada: The Greater Montreal area has nearly 2,000 miles of bike lanes and paths, and the COVID-19 pandemic further encouraged bikers to travel this way.
  • Madison, Wisconsin: The American Communities Survey found one-third of commuters in Madison walk, bike, or take public transportation to work. The city is also continuously working on programs to benefit those who prefer walking or biking to work.
  • New York, New York: Despite being the most populated metropolitan city in the United States, New York ranks fairly high in being pedestrian-friendly. In fact, it’s recognized by walkfriendly.org as a Walk-Friendly Community, meaning it’s committed to keeping pedestrians safe.
  • Seattle, Washington: Like many of the other cities listed, Seattle is putting an effort into encouraging commuters to become pedestrians. It also has speed enforcement cameras at 14 schools around the city to protect students from drivers and educate them on walking safely.

While many cities are shifting their focus on lowering traffic or encouraging traffic safety, there are still others where, unfortunately, walking or biking is not safe.

Unsafe Cities for Walking and Cycling

Most of the unsafest cities for cyclists are in California, Texas, and Florida.

Cape Coral, Florida is considered to be the most dangerous city for cyclists. It has 1,333 bicyclist deaths per 100,000 residents. Research showed that the number of cyclists wearing helmets in Cape Coral is extremely low, as well.

If anything, this statistic shows the importance of wearing safety gear while cycling. Other dangerous cycling cities include Dayton, Ohio; Stockton, California; and Abilene, Texas.

Luke Williams writes and researches for the car insurance comparison site, CarInsurance.org. His passions include insurance and exploring travel alternatives to driving.