How walkable, relatively, is Albany?

albany walk score heat map

A heat map of walk scores for Albany. Here's the interactive map.

A post over at Atlantic Cities about the "most walkable cities" in the United States has been circulating locally on Twitter because it mentions that Albany is among the top 10 most walkable cities in the country, according to data from Walk Score.

It turns out that's not actually true.

But that doesn't mean Albany -- and a few other local cities -- don't fare well in the rankings.

How it's wrong

We suspect Albany got tagged as a top 10 walkable city on the Atlantic's map because Albany, California is ranked #6 (walk score: 85.7). Mistakes happen. It's not the first time someone's done that, and it won't be last.

OK, so what's the real ranking?

Walk Score publishes data and rankings for the 2,500 largest cities in the United States. So we pulled the list, and did a little sorting and calculating

Albany

Albany's actual Walk Score rank among all cities is #131. That's not bad at all -- it puts Albany in the 95th percentile.

Among the 245 cities more or less Albany's population*, the city ranks #20 (92nd percentile).

And Albany doesn't quite have 100,000 people, but if we cheated and said it did, it would rank #31. (89th percentile among 282 cities)

*Albany has about 97,000 people, so we included cities ranging from 75k-125k in population.

Saratoga, Schenectady, Troy

Here are the ranks for those cities on the all-cities list:

Saratoga Springs: #1020 (59th percentile)

Schenectady: #160 (94th percentile)

Troy: #349 (86th percentile)

Caveats

Here's how Walk Score explains its methodology, with acknowledged limitations, and its rankings methodology.

The cities rankings it publishes doesn't include towns -- so no Colonie, Clifton Park, and so on. But you can look up those places on the Walk Score site.

And, of course, ranking cities is kind of blunt -- neighborhoods or exact locations are better indicator of walkability. You can do that on the Walk Score site. For example, here's the neighborhood listing for Albany.

[A tip of the hat to Holly (@apestypenovels), who was the first person we saw mention the Atlantic post.]

map screengrab: Walk Score

Comments

Yes, if you're going to be a street walker, Albany is a good place to be! Wait, that didn't sound right.

Sometimes I think Colonie is actively trying to reduce their Walk Scores.

I love walking in Albany. Schenectady is a little more difficult. I love the hills in Troy but it is not optimal.

The walk from downtown Albany to downtown Troy, especially along the river, is a wonderful walk during the warm months.

Out here in the boonies of Rensselaer County, no sensible person goes for a stroll on the eve of garbage pickup. If you don't know why I'll give you a hint...BEARS.

Because of the simple existence of sidewalks, I walk far more (that is, daily) as a resident of the city of Albany than I did when I lived in rural and suburban parts of Albany County. (Having a dog now explains a lot of that walking.) However, I wish I had more place to walk TO. The city is pretty stretched out. In my neighborhood it's not practical to walk to many stores and services, or at least any I would frequent.

From the "How it Doesn't Work" page:

* Street design: Sidewalks and safe crossings are essential to walkability. Appropriate automobile speeds, trees, and other features also help.
* Safety from crime and crashes: How much crime is in the neighborhood? How many traffic accidents are there? Are streets well-lit?
* Pedestrian-friendly community design: Are there narrow streets with buildings close to the sidewalk and parking relegated to the back? Are destinations clustered together?
* Topography: Hills can make walking difficult, especially if you're carrying groceries.
* Weather: In some places it's just too hot or cold to walk regularly.
--------------

Clearly these are all things that would destroy our score if factored into the equation. There are few sidewalks in the Eagle Hill neighborhood (and others I'm sure), I don't think anyone drives close to 30 in 30 mph zones, and then there are the hit and runs occur on a regular basis...

We live off of Delaware Avenue and walking in that neighborhood is pretty nice, there are a number of great restaurants, a movie theater, a fantastic new bakery, parks with ample green space... and houses are well priced.

I lived off Delaware and walked to my job at the Empire State Plaza everyday for more than 10 years... winter too...it was awesome and I miss it now that I live in the boonies.

There are a lot of walkable neighborhoods in Albany, but I'm not sure how you can scale that up to the entire city.

I lived on Delaware and walked to work on Broadway for over ten years. The biggest problem was unshoveled, ice-covered sidewalks. I would say that fewer than half of the properties on Delaware kept their sidewalks in good condition in the winter. It was one of the reasons I gave up on urban life last year and moved to Bethlehem.

There are still some neighborhoods in Albany that are completely neglected in walkability-ness (?) as well as most other basic services. Last summer when they spent weeks tearing up State Street, I was so angry thinking about the street where I work, 3rd Ave. It is a residential street with no garbage cans, no mailboxes, several falling down buildings, the trash is often not picked up, and there are places where the sidewalk is completely crumbled and disintegrated.
We have areas of the city with real impediments to safe walking
(when I used to bring my baby to work I would have to push his stroller in the street where there was no sidewalk) and we spend enormous amounts tearing up State Street (which was totally fine before). I called the mayor's radio show about it and he didn't seem to know where 3rd ave was.

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