Tempe Named Arizona's Best Walking CityMarch 13, 2008
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.
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.
were judged based on criteria that included crime rates, pollution,
number of parks and the number of people who walk to work and for
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
"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
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.
State University's proximity to downtown Tempe creates a high-density
area, which is conducive to alternative transportation use, he said.
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.
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,
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,
"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.
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