The American Podiatric Medical Association has ranked 200 major U.S. metro areas for walkability, with Boston coming in at number 5 and Worcester at 34 (see PDF file for complete list).
The rankings are based on "healthy lifestyles, modes of transportation to and from work and involvement in fitness and sport activities," according to a statement from the APMA.
Tops on the list: Arlington, Virginia, where 23% of the city's workforce uses public transit to get to work (many of them, no doubt, using a transit system paid for by federal tax dollars so they can commute to government jobs. Ironic that the federal government then wants to slash funding for so many other forms of public transportation, like Amtrak). San Francisco, Seattle and Portland (Oregon) round out the cities ranked more walkable than Boston. (Washington, D.C. was 6th; New York ranked 7th).
45% of Bostonians either walk to work or take the T, the APMA said.
Unfortunately, the study doesn't go into what makes a walkable community. However, as I've said before, appealing streetscape as well as safe sidewalks and crossings are key. I live within walking distance of my office, but don't walk to work as nearly as often as I should. It's tecnically feasible, but not a pleasant experience. If I had to cover the same distance in a streetscape like Boston's Back Bay, I'd probably be walking to work almost every day it wasn't raining or snowing. But who wants to walk in an area where there's no buffer between sidewalk and speeding cars, where you're walking by big blank concrete walls or asphalt parking lots or dumpsters instead of storefronts or residences with windows facing the street, and so on.