Heads up Santee pedestrians- your city ranked at the very bottom of a Regional Walk Scorecard of San Diego County cities released Wednesday by WalkSanDiego, California’s largest walk advocacy group.
Santee scored 37.2 out of 100 possible points in the study, which is said to measure the extent to which cities in the San Diego region are responding to the call for more walkable neighborhoods.
From the Report:
"Cities that scored lowest – Santee, El Cajon, and Lemon Grove – are all East County cities built primarily around the use of automobiles as the main form of transportation. In addition, these cities scored lower on policies and implementation of street improvements that improve walking safety or convenience. This is not to say there are no such policies – indeed, all three have focused on increasing walking, bike safety, traffic calming, and transit use in key areas, such as residential neighborhoods, Main Street corridors, and trolley stations. Due to past planning decisions, however, creating safe and convenient walking conditions will be a long-term effort for these cities."
National City emerged with the highest rating in San Diego County, closely followed by La Mesa and Solana Beach.
Santee got points for having a trolley stop, but suffered in the rankings because of issues such as the lack of an east-west bicycle cooridor, which the city has discussed remedying as part of the Prospect Avenue redevelopment project.
The Scorecard rates the walkability of each city in San Diego County. The comprehensive rating system ranks cities based on the status of walking and considers such factors as the number of people walking, safety, walk-friendly policies, infrastructure and even aesthetics. The study also used crowd sourcing for acquiring data, distributing a free cell phone app that local residents used to rate neighborhood streets. The BestWALK phone app was used by volunteers around the County to rate more than 1,500 streets and intersections.
“We created the Walk Scorecard to focus attention on the issue of walkability and to create a dialogue that will lead to improvements," said WalkSanDiego executive director Jim Stone. "But we also hope to foster a little friendly competition among cities to be the best for walking and active transportation.”
Health and Economic Benefits of Walking
Recent research has shown that people who walk 30 minutes a day have a lower risk for diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, according to WalkSanDiego. The economic benefits of walkability have been documented in several studies, including one based in the San Diego region. These studies have demonstrated that houses in walkable neighborhoods command higher prices than similar houses in less walkable places. Transportation research has shown that when people choose to walk or ride bikes instead of driving, significant reductions in green house gases can be achieved.
WalkSanDiego will issue its Walk Scorecard annually. Residents are encouraged to download the BestWALK phone app and rate streets to help collect data for next year’s competition. Cities that did not score as well as others will have some time to adopt new policies and create ways to encourage residents to walk more.
“Who knows, this competition could create a real race among cities to become the most walkable place in the region," said WalkSanDiego’s Jim Stone. "The winners will clearly be the people who benefit from more walkable, livable communities.”