It wasn't exactly a walk in the park, but National City joins La Mesa and Imperial Beach as the most walk-friendly cities in San Diego County, according to the Regional Walk Scorecard released last week by WalkSanDiego.
National City held the highest walkable score last year but this year lost out to La Mesa by a meager two points.
Imperial Beach finished third.
Although National City is no longer No.1, being named one of the most walkable cities in the county is still an honor, said Jim Stone, executive director with the independent non-profit WalkSanDiego.
“Both La Mesa and National City, as well as Imperial Beach, have made significant efforts to help ensure that more people have walking as a viable transportation method,” he said.
The scorecard, in its second year of recording data, measures the status of walking index — this measures the total percent of residents whose commute mode was either walking or transit in the years 2000 and 2010, according to Census data — and the pedestrian collision rate calculated per population and per miles of street.
Implementation and policy, which gathers data on projects happening on the ground, is also accounted for.
The scorecard praised National City for aggressively adding pedestrian-friendly facilities and amenities throughout the city. National City has extensively inventoried the walkability of streets and neighborhoods to identify areas needing improvement, according to the scorecard.
Steve Manganiello, city engineer for National City, said National City was able to get funding through grants to improve its walkability.
“We aggressively went after a variety of transportation grants to promote safety routes for schools and other safe enhancement grants,” Manganiello said.
These federal, state and local grants helped improve pedestrian safety around schools. Three years ago National City updated its general plan to help improve traffic circulation.
Ironically, the report states that National City has “the highest rate of pedestrian collisions in the region, but overcomes this negative with the high number of residents who walk or use transit to get around.”
Stone said the reason why collision rates are so high is because there are so many people walking.
“National City has one of the higher rates of pedestrian collisions, but they also have a very high rate of pedestrians walking, so that one kind of counteracts the other and they ended up scoring fairly well in that regard.”
According to WalkSanDiego’s data, in the last five years National City had 143 collisions. The number of fatalities or seriousness of injury is not shown in the report.
Chula Vista is in the middle of the pack at No. 8 out of the 18 cities graded. Stone said the recent development of Chula Vista took away a lot of the city’s walkability.
Walk-friendly cities generally do better economically than those that are not walk-friendly, Stone said.
He said a retail business in a walkable place tends to do better than a retail business that’s not accessible by walking.
Also, he added, if a house is in a walkable neighborhood it will most likely be worth more.
Santee was the worst walk friendly city in San Diego, the report shows.