Americans Walk More Than Ever

An analysis of searches for walking directions shows dramatic increases in walking in cities across the country.

October 4, 2021, 12:00 PM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


kaybee07 / Flickr

Based on data from Apple's Mobility Report, walking increased during the pandemic in every region of the country, surging 122 percent in the Midwest. As reported by Patrick McGregor, as pandemic restrictions began to wind down, searches for walking directions increased at dramatic rates.

Because public transit puts people in close proximity to others in enclosed spaces, "it’s more appealing, and frankly, healthy, to walk, bike or scoot to your destination rather than crowding on a subway train."

"[R]esidents of Milwaukee and Virginia Beach, Va., are walking more than ever — both reaching highs of 178% and 187% in July, respectively, and far outpacing any other increases in driving anywhere else in the country." Meanwhile, "walking searches in Jacksonville, Fla.; Sacramento, Calif.; and Phoenix are continuing to climb, even after rebounding completely by June of 2020. Those searches are up 70%, 65% and 48%, respectively, compared to January 13, 2020."

In some cities, such as Boston, Austin, Chicago, and New York City, public transit use has also bounced back to above pre-pandemic levels. "Overall, it appears that we’re moving more and more as a nation. And, while this data doesn’t include air travel or hotel bookings, looking for directions is a very strong indicator of traveling — regardless of the means."

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