Best cities for dog walking

Or maybe any kind of walking

By Morf Morford, Tacoma Daily Index

I live in one of those semi-historic neighborhoods with lots of big houses and short or even dead-end streets. Most of the residential blocks have sidewalks. But with or without sidewalks, my low traffic neighborhood welcomes walkers of all kinds.

Not every city has a safe and welcoming public space for walkers. Some cities have dog parks. Others have parks, river walks or other designated areas for pedestrians.

But not very many neighborhoods have public spaces that, almost accidently (or at least unofficially) are welcoming to dogs (and their humans). Much to no one’s surprise, these areas are welcoming to all.

Few of us think about it this way, but in those areas where there are few vehicles in motion, kids, dogs, bicyclers and all manner of pedestrians fill the space.

In my neighborhood, for example, there was a woman who walked her dog on a leash almost every afternoon. She had a cat (with a leash) who followed along. To put it mildly, you won’t see that on a car-filled street.

As you might guess, some cities are more inclined toward the non-motorized among us.

According to a recent study, the best cities to walk your dog are;

  • 1 San Francisco, CA
  • 2 Colorado Springs, CO
  • 3 Glendale, CA
  • 4 Portland, OR
  • 5 Oakland, CA
  • 6 Los Angeles, CA
  • 7 San Diego, CA
  • 8 Boise, ID
  • 9 Fremont, CA
  • 10 Naperville, IL

I’m a bit surprised to not see Seattle on that list. According to a recent census, Seattle had more dogs than children. But I must admit that when I go to Seattle, I very rarely see anyone out walking their dog.

I also have to admit that, beyond my immediate neighborhood, someone walking a dog outside of a park is not a common sight.

But in general, the West Coast is dog-friendly – eight of the top 10 cities — such as San Francisco (No. 1), Portland, Oregon (No. 4), and Boise, Idaho (No. 8) — are in this region. And six of the top ten are in California.

Naperville, Illinois (coming in at number 10), is the lone state in the eastern side of the U.S. I’ve never been there, but my bias is, any city that welcomes dogs (and their owners) can’t be all bad.

The lowest ranking cities are;

  • 1 Jackson, MS
  • 2 Montgomery, AL
  • 3 Memphis, TN
  • 4 Little Rock, AR
  • 5 Surprise, AZ
  • 6 Augusta, GA
  • 7 Detroit, MI
  • 8 Kansas City, KS
  • 9 Macon, GA
  • 10 Springfield, MO

I haven’t been to any of these cities, so I don’t know what about those places is not conducive to dog (or any other kind of) walking.

Detroit apparently keeps its reputation as “motor city” with a public preference for (and investment in) automotive (as opposed to canine or pedestrian) infrastructure.

As with everything else I suppose, dog ownership probably has some connection or correlation to weather, politics, education and income levels.

I don’t have a dog right now, but I tend to think of dogs (and cats, and maybe even all pets) as something like a universal language.

No matter what you do (or don’t) have in common with neighbors, everyone seems to welcome the chance to speak about, or show off, their pets.

Love me, love my dog

In a strange way, our pets define us. We pick animals that suit us. Or maybe they pick us. But either way, it’s a relationship like no other. I know people whose relationships with dogs outlast, and are more rewarding than their human relationships.

As the weather warms up, more of us, and our pets, will be out on display.

Whether it is your pet taking you for a walk, or you using your pet as an excuse to go for a walk, getting out in your neighborhood, or even far beyond, is always a welcome venture. Certainly for your pet, and maybe even for you.