We all love our dogs, but when it comes to taking them out for a walk, how much do they love our towns? From the terrain to the climate to the community, some locales are just better for our furry friends (and their owners) than others. A recent study by LawnStarter ranking 174 large cities across four categories gives us a sense of where the best ones are.
The first category was “walkability,” which drew scores from the website Walkscore.com. The more daily errands that could be completed in a given location without the use of a car, the higher the “walkscore.” Next was “environment,” where scoring was based on the availability of dog parks and dog-friendly trails. “Services” measured the availability of local dog-walking services and their hourly rates. Finally, “safety” added crime statistics and pedestrian fatalities to the mix. Data for these metrics were drawn from AllTrails.com, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Neighborhoodscout.com, Petsitter.com and other LawnStarter studies.
Turns out, it’s complicated. Some cities scored very well in one category but poorly in another. Orlando, Fla., for example, had the most dog-walkers per capita, but also the most pedestrian fatalities. New York, known as a walkable city, ranked fifth for “walkability,” but 168th for its expensive “services” — which helps explain the armies of canines often seen being led by a single walker.
In the end, seven of the top 10 dog-walking cities were out west, including Portland, Ore., San Francisco and Colorado Springs, thanks in large part to the easy access to dog parks, dog-friendly trails and businesses. And most of the bottom 10 were in the South, including Jackson, Miss., and Port St. Lucie, Fla. — “neither the most walkable nor the most accessible to dogs,” according to the study
Below, this week’s chart, based LawnStarter’s rankings.