Tempe Named Arizona's Best Walking City

March 13, 2008
Leeann Skoda
The Arizona Republic

MAY 2008 UPDATE: News article on why Tempe becoming "Best Walking City" is so important?
Tempe has been named the "Best Walking City" in Arizona, and among the top 100 in the nation.

Health publication Prevention Magazine and the American Podiatric Medical Association surveyed major cities across the U.S. to find the "Best Walking Cities." Tempe was ranked 66 among the Top 100 Walking Cities in the country; Yuma and Glendale also earned a spot on that list.

Cities were judged based on criteria that included crime rates, pollution, number of parks and the number of people who walk to work and for exercise.

Among the cities surveyed, Tempe boasted the most people who walk to work, the most mass transit users and the most parks per square mile.

Tempe scores above the national average for use of alternative transportation: walking, bicycling, and transit use, City of Tempe Community Outreach and Marketing Coordinator Tanya Chavez said.

"I think it's a start to becoming a great city," she said of the ranking. "Who doesn't want a city that's environmentally friendly?"

The growth of Tempe's efforts to promote walking is partly due to a dedicated sales tax that went into effect in 1996, Chavez said, that enabled the launch of the Tempe in Motion transportation plan that includes bicycle and pedestrian paths, bus services and the light rail system.

Tempe's senior planner in Transportation Eric Iwersen has worked toward making Tempe more pedestrian friendly for the past 10 years.

He said the work Tempe has done has certainly encouraged residents to walk more. One example of this is the annual city-sponsored Walk to School Day. In October 2007, 8,000 elementary school students and parents participated in the event to promote walking as an environmentally conscious alternative, according to the city's Web site.

Also, Arizona State University's proximity to downtown Tempe creates a high-density area, which is conducive to alternative transportation use, he said.

Prevention Magazine reported that Tempe earned a "walkability" score of 95 out of 100 on the Web site WalkScore.com for its downtown entertainment, shopping and dining.

Iwersen said that the recognition for Tempe is great, but that there is still a lot of work to be done.

"I think we have a long way to go," he said.

Tempe currently has more than 165 miles of bicycle and scenic pathways, and plans for encouraging more pedestrian traffic are underway. Paved walking facilities will be built along the canals and near Rio Salado Parkway and will include lighting, trees and artwork to draw walkers, Iwersen said.

Construction will begin on the Western Canal Multi-use Path in the next two to three months and should be completed by winter 2009, he said.

The ultimate goal for the city, he said, is to make alternative transportation easily accessible. It should be as attractive to walk, bike or bus as it is to drive a car, he said.

"We are trying to make Tempe as modally balanced as possible," he said.

For more information on Tempe bicycle and pedestrian paths, visit the Tempe in Motion Web site at www.tempe.gov/tim. To see how other Arizona cities ranked, check Prevention Magazine's site at www.prevention.com/bestcities.

Tom Tokoph
Urban Living Broker

About our company:  Urban Realty & Development, provides full service real estate sales, consulting and developer services to those who, like us, are looking for their very own home in the modern world. Whether that "home" is a minimalist sanctuary in the penthouse suite, an industrial style office space with exposed ductwork and concrete floors, or a hip new retail shop on "Main Street", Urban Realty & Development is ready to show you that “Life is in the Heart of the City!”  We specialize in Downtown Tempe Lofts, Townhomes, & Condo market.  We also live & work in the heart of downtown Tempe, so we have a passion for the area.  We look forward to sharing our passion with you!

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