What can you walk to from your house?
A grocery store?
For many of us in Tennessee, the answer is “none of the above.”
Most of our cities are sprawling, lack consistent sidewalks, and have public transit and safety issues that make it hard to get around entirely on foot. It’s frustrating, of course, but it’s also a missed opportunity when it comes to our health.
Walking has been shown to:
- Help you maintain a healthy weight
- Strengthen bones and muscles
- Improve your mood
- Develop balance and coordination
- Prevent heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes
As a form of exercise, walking is one of the best things you can do because it’s free, low-impact and easy. And that’s where some of our cities give us trouble.
“Obviously, we need sidewalks and clean streets and safe neighborhoods, but we also need destinations,” says Dr. Debra Bartelli of the University of Memphis School of Public Health.
“If you can’t walk anywhere near where you live or work or learn, what’s the point?”
Going the extra mile
Tennessee is getting better about working walkability into our plans.
Cities are building and expanding greenlines. Local organizations are adding bikeshare programs to connect people and stimulate activity. And through the BlueCross Healthy Place program, we are building communal spaces for healthy activities all across the state, including our recently announced project in Chattanooga’s Highland Park.
How Tennessee fares right now
Below you’ll find our largest cities ranked by Walk Score, a site that grades cities out of 100.
- Major metropolitan areas like New York (89), San Francisco (86) and Chicago (79) score high
- Large Southern cities like Atlanta (49), Charleston (40) and Charlotte (26) often score lower
The 33 largest cities in Tennessee have an average walk score of 22, and our four biggest cities score between 28 and 37.
That means every large city in Tennessee is car-dependent.
Tennessee’s most walkable large cities are:
- Memphis (37)
- East Ridge (32)
- Knoxville (31)
- Cleveland (30)
- Chattanooga (29)
Tennessee’s least walkable large cities are:
- Brentwood (5)
- La Vergne (12)
Spring Hill (12)
- Farragut (13)
Mount Juliet (13)
While Walk Score only ranks Tennessee’s largest cities, you can input any address to get your walk score.
Tennessee cities: Walk Scores
Scroll down to view all 33 cities ranked by population, or click here to view the full list ranked by walkability.
|9||Johnson City||26||Washington, Carter, Sullivan|
|12||Kingsport||26||Hawkins, Sullivan, Washington|
|17||Spring Hill||12||Maury, Williamson|
|26||Oak Ridge||18||Anderson, Roane|
To learn more about how walkability and our surroundings affect health in Tennessee, click here.