Marielle Mondon |

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) Bicyclists make their way through Salt Lake City traffic. Officials are pushing to promote more walking and biking as the Wasatch Front population is predicted to double in coming decades.Bikes might be hogging the trend spotlight these days, but cities are smart to cater to those who move by shoe. And Boston is one place that’s set to be a leader in that regard, according to the people behind last year’s ranking of walkability in the 30 largest metros in the U.S.

The region is home to 57 key “walkable urban places” that make up only 6 percent of the metro’s land area. The rest of the region misses out not only on walkability, but a majority of commercial real estate development, according to “The WalkUP Wake-Up Call: Boston,” which was released today. The authors, Chris Leinberger and Patrick Lynch of the George Washington University School of Business, say that walkable urban places (what they call WalkUPs) attracted the majority of real estate development in the last cycle and concluded that pedestrian-oriented living is in high demand in Boston:

Metro Boston is on the leading edge of the national structural shift towards walkable urbanism. The weighted-average valuation for walkable urban real estate is 37 percent higher than drivable sub-urban real estate in the region.

Previous research has demonstrated the correlation between walkable urban places and both the education of the metropolitan work force and the GDP per capita. The current research confirms this finding: For example, since 2000, 70 percent of the population growth of young, educated workers has occurred in the walkable urban places of the Boston region.

The report makes the case that walkable communities make good sense by ranking the city’s neighborhoods for walkability, and measuring economic performance by real estate valuations, fiscal revenues generated for local government and social equity performance.

“This analysis validates the shift towards walkable urban development that we’ve seen across the country,” said Leinberger, who has contributed to Next City. “This change will reshape the way we approach urban design and planning, regulation, financing and construction nationwide. The findings will play a critical role in the guessing game of where developers and investors should be looking in the future.” Read more