For Businesses

Good Walking is Good Business

Pedestrian facilities are a vital element of the public realm, serving all businesses and residents. They pay off in increased retail sales, healthier employees and higher real estate values. Businesses gain wherever walking conditions are improved.

WalkBoston’s Good Walking is Good Business brochure provides data and statistics on the important connection between walkability and economic prosperity. The numbers are astounding and prove this is a wise investment. Dollar for dollar, the returns of a walkable neighborhood are impressive, from more customers to healthier, more productive employees. Links to online tools and resources for urban design, walkers and small businesses are available on our helpful links page.

Is your neighborhood uninviting to pedestrians? Thanks to the Barr Foundation, WalkBoston has created a  “Good Walking is Good Business” presentation, which we take to communities that would like help becoming more walkable. Let us know if you would like to have us come to your community.

Walkers’ Choice Award Introduced in 2010 to promote the theme “Good Walking is Good Business,” the Walkers' Choice Award honors the business community’s efforts in creating lively, walker-friendly places. WalkBoston presents the award annually to recognize businesses that provide inviting public spaces that encourage pedestrians to linger as they walk through their communities.

With your support, WalkBoston can continue to make communities walkable, and be a resource that neighborhoods and business districts can turn to. Make an investment in improving the walking conditions around your place of business. It will pay off with more customers, healthier employees, and a stronger bottom line. Support WalkBoston today


Take a look at these current articles and reports about the connection between communities with thriving economies and pedestrian accommodation. See related news below to read more about how WalkBoston is involved.

Retail Businesses

Porter Square Customer Intercept Survey Summary Report Cambridge Community Development Department, 2012

NYC DOT Study: Street Redesign Good for the Economy Transportation Nation, 2012

Retail Info Boston Globe

Venture Capital Shifts Downtown Atlantic Cities, 2012

Deck the Windows: Holiday Displays a Downtown Tradition for Businesses The Times, 2011

Understanding High Street Performance Department for Business Innovation and Skills, 2011

City Supermarkets Shrink to Fit Boston Globe, 2011

Two Brothers, Two Radically Different Walk Scores Congress for New Urbanism

Real Estate and Economics

The Simple Math that Can Save Cities from Bankruptcy Atlantic Cities, 2012

The Hottest Trends in Urban Housing Atlantic Cities, 2012

How Much is a Bike Trail Worth? Atlantic Cities, 2011

WalkBoston: Good Walking is Good Business Smart Growth America, 2011

Are the Millennials Driving Downtown Corporate Relocations? The New Republic, 2011

Urban Office Markets are Looking Up Urban Land, 2011 

Measuring the Value of High Streets - Key Findings

Economic Value of Walkability Victoria Transport Policy Institute, 2007

The Economic Promise of Walkable Places in Metropolitan Washington, D.C. A report by Brookings

Smart Growth America Blog 

Driving Patterns and Parking

The End of Car Culture New York Time, 2013

The Cost of Auto Orientation Cities&Town, 2012 

GM Turns to MTV To Draw Reluctant Young Buyers New York Times, 2012

A Generational Shift in Driving Sightline Daily, 2011

In the Public's Interest: Americans are Driving Less HuffPost, 2011

Why are US Teenagers Driving Less BBC News, 2011 

Is the Digital Age Changing Our Desire to Drive?The Infrastructurist, 2010 

Parking at Mixed-Use Centers in Small Cities Marshall & Garrick, 2006 

Urban Design

Taking Parking Lots Seriously as Public Spaces New York Times, 2012

What Makes a Great Public Space, 2012

Thinking Beyond the Station, 2011

What if We Built Our Communities Around Spaces, 2011

Temporary is the New Permanent Atlantic Cities, 2011

Communities Look to Paths and Plazas to Encourage Walking, 2011

Route 6 Area West of Brightman Street Bridge Will Undergo Pedestrian-Friendly Redesign The Herald News, 2011 

Seven Corners: Urban Design Strategy 2008

Ten Principles for Reinventing America's Suburban Business Districts A report by the Urban Land Institute

Healthy Transportation Compact 

The Healthy Transportation Compact connects multiple Massachusetts state agencies to support active transportation alternatives. Agencies involved include MassDOT, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, and the Department of Public Health.


The interaction between pedestrians and businesses in healthy communities is a topic that interests experts in a wide range of disciplines, from urban planners and designers to economists and cultural researchers. A few prominent figures in this field include:

Jan Gehl: Danish urban designer and author of several publications about people-focused design, he has written extensively on pedestrian activity in cities and his firm Gehl Architects has been a part of several pedestrian prioritization projects, most recently the closing of Times Square in New York City. An excerpt from his book: Cities for People

Edward Glaeser: Harvard Professor of Urban Economics and author of Triumph of the City. Glaeser’s work explores firm and employee location decisions. An excerpt from his book: Triumph of the City.

Edward T Hall: Anthropologist who developed the theory of proxemics, how humans relate to each other in space, Hall explored how humans use space to define different social behaviors. His work is useful when thinking about design guidelines and designs for places to pause and gather. More on Hall's work on Proxemics.

Jane Jacobs: One of the major figures in American urban planning history, Jacobs argues for an incremental approach to development, mixed-use neighborhoods, and a vibrant street life. Her theory of "eyes on the street" suggests that a perception of sidewalk safety comes from being within seeing and hearing distance of people, whether they are other pedestrians on the street or people inside nearby buildings. She wrote a number of books on Urban Theory and Urban Economics. Article about Eyes on the Street.

Chris Leinberger: An urban sociologist with an MBA, Leinberger is a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution researching downtown and suburban redevelopment. He has significant experience working in and teaching real estate development and his work currently focuses on the market shift toward walkable urbanism. In numerous articles he makes the case that walkable places are worth investing in and that the residential market is shifting toward walkable, mixed-use communities.  "Here Comes the Neighborhood".

William H Whyte: One of the earliest researchers of pedestrian behavior in cities. Whyte and a team of researchers used still and film photography to record pedestrian interactions around New York City in streets and plazas. Their work, the “Street Life Project”, resulted in Whyte’s famous book and 1988 film, The Social Life of Small Urban Places. Whyte’s studies, which began in the 1960s, inspired many other scholars. Clip from The Social Life of Small Urban Places.