By Jenny Connelly-Bowen, CBN Graduate Research Assistant

In this edition of the Community Builders Exchange, we’re sharing a map that looks at residents who walk and bike to work in the St. Louis region. This week’s Publications section highlights a CityLab article summarizing a new report that examines the relationship between metro area walkability and community affluence, education levels, and social equity. (A related article, published earlier the same month, discusses research that attempts to quantify the cost of urban sprawl.) The study finds that walkable urban places with high Walk Scores and concentrations of retail and/or office space often have higher per capita GDPs and a higher share of college graduates. Metro areas with high walkability also tend to be more socially equitable, as measured by housing and transportation costs and the availability of jobs located near a given residence. Using this measure of social equity, St. Louis ranks 15 out of 30 among metro areas studied, which puts the region in level three (out of four): “Lower-Middle Walkable Urbanism.” returns a similar result: it gives the St. Louis region overall a Walk Score of 64. This puts St. Louis in the “Somewhat Walkable” camp, where “some errands can be accomplished on foot,” according to Walk Score’s scale. Walk Score also measures how bike-friendly an area is. In this camp, St. Louis overall ranks 57 (“Bikeable: Some bike infrastructure”). You can read more about Walk Score’s methodology here.

The map below displays by census tract the amount of workers traveling to work by walking and/or biking in the St. Louis region, per 2010-2014 American Community Survey (ACS) Five-Year Estimates. This data defines the workforce as people 16 and older. The map was created using Community Commons, an online data and mapping tool produced and managed by the University of Missouri’s Center for Applied Research and Environmental Systems (CARES); the Institute for People, Place and Possibility; and Community Initiatives. Community Commons is free to use and easy to navigate. You can take a look and sign up for an account here.

The interactive feature of this map allows you to change the data type from “percent” to “total,” which will display the total number of workers walking and/or biking to work within that census tract. You can also click on individual census tracts to examine more detailed information for that tract, including exact percentages and totals.

The categories used to sort the total percentages of workers walking and/or biking to work mask wide variation among census tracts in the highest category (where over 4 percent of workers walk and/or bike to work). In some tracts within the city’s Central Corridor, around 10 percent of workers walk or bike to work—and in a few tracts (1184, 1186, 1193, and 1256), that number is about 25 percent. Unsurprisingly, the neighborhoods that correspond with these unusual tracts—Midtown, the Central West End, Grand Center, and Downtown—score higher than the St. Louis average on Walk Score’s walking and biking scales. All four tally in as “Very Walkable” neighborhoods, where “most errands can be accomplished on foot.” The advantage in bike-friendliness is less dramatic, however; even with their higher Bike Scores, these neighborhoods only qualify as “Bikeable.”

To see maps from previous editions of the Community Builders Exchange, click here.