Greater City Providence

Providence has 10th highest percentage of people walking to work, and growing

Cambridge - Harvard Square

Harvard Square in #1 ranked Cambridge, Mass. Photo (cc) Wally Gobetz

Nationally, only a small fraction of people primarily walk to work – the measure the Census Bureau estimates in its annual American Communities Survey. In a select group of cities, though, recent data illustrates the extent to which walking has emerged as an everyday means of commuting.

Providence ranks 10th with 10.8% of commuters walking; 69.9% commuting by car, 9.2% by public transit, 5.3% by bike/taxi/other*, and 5% working from home.

Providence also sees the 10th highest rise in people commuting by foot, going up 1.5% from 2007 to 2012. Imagine if we were actually actively working somehow to encourage people to walk the way number 1 ranked Cambridge does!

*What do we thinking the others are commuting by.

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • That’s great — now let’s talk about why. More jobs in downtown? More housing downtown? both? Would be good to understand more specifically the underlying reasons.

  • Good questions, Elaine. Looking at the list some of them make sense, some surprise me… like New Haven. Though my guess about New Haven is Yale and their home buyer program, which includes a large number of neighborhoods around the campus. I only know about PC’s program in Providence (if it still exists, it might not), which included a very limited area near the campus and only properties owned by absentee landlords, basically looking to get staff and faculty to own multi-family homes to rent to students (because that’s exactly who a member of the staff wants to rent to).

  • There’s good and bad in this.

    It’s really encouraging that so many people walk! Great!

    It’s also kind of worth noting that several of the cities (did I see Columbia, SC?) on the Wikipedia list for top walking cities are places with lousy transit. Several cities that are lower on the list than Providence, like New York and Philly, are certainly as good or better to walk in, but simply have more people taking transit because of better services, and thus don’t have as high numbers.

    (Not to be a downer, which I know I am being. . . Sorry. . . )

    When I worked for the census once I remember being really annoyed that “taxi” and “bike” were in the same category. Not to say that there’s anything wrong with taxis, per se, but really, what do they have in common?

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