Charming Florida Town Named America's "Most Walkable"
Dunedin's Top Ranking Debunks Brookings Institution Study
The Pinellas County town of Dunedin was voted America's "Most Walkable Small City" today, the result of a survey sponsored by RunThePlanet.com, an influential runner's Web site based in Seattle, Washington.
The city's abundant sunshine, mild year-round climate, pedestrian-friendly thoroughfares and compact downtown area landed it the top spot in the survey's "Small Community" category. Boulder, Colorado and Washington, DC were voted the country's most walkable medium and large cities, respectively.
"We're excited to receive official recognition of what we have known all along," said Dunedin Mayor Bob Hackworth, whose tree-lined, 108-year-old municipality near the Gulf of Mexico is internationally famous for its Scottish heritage and links to the PGA Tour. "This is an immensely walkable and liveable city, and we're proud to be at the top of the list of America's best," he added.
Frank Roy, co-owner of Meranova Guest Inn in downtown Dunedin, says the town's walkability is a hit with visitors, too.
"Our guests are often surprised that they can walk everywhere they need to go, whether it's for shopping, nightclubbing, or five-star dining," he said, adding that the town's pedestrian-friendly nature is advantageous for local restaurateurs as well.
The survey's results came in stark contrast to a study released earlier in the week by the Washington, DC-based Brookings Institution, which ranked the Tampa Bay Area last in "walkability" among America's top 30 metropolitan areas. That study used mass transit figures and demographic statistics to support its conclusions, whereas the RunThePlanet.com ranking relied on a survey of visitors who had actually visited---and walked---cities and towns across America.
"That the Brookings study relied on statistical analysis rather than actual experience of visitors shows how raw data can be misleading," said DT Minich, executive director of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater.
"There's much more to the St. Pete/Clearwater area than any spreadsheet could ever convey, and we're pleased that Dunedin was voted number one by people who actually know it," he added.
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