Population and Jobs in Highly Walkable Areas

ON TO 2050 places a high priority on supporting development of compact, walkable communities to help meet increasing demand for these places, support transit, and improve mobility. This indicator will report the percentages of the region’s population and jobs located in areas with “high” or “very high” walkability. To assess walkability, CMAP created an index that considers multiple factors contributing to walkability: nearby amenities, block length, intersection density, population and employment densities, tree canopy cover, and bicycle or pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries. This indicator notably does not include sidewalk coverage as a factor, owing to a lack of region-wide data availability; as a result, this indicator may provide an overly optimistic estimate of walkability in some areas.


As of 2015, 41.5 percent of the region’s population and 38.2 percent of the region’s jobs were located in areas with “high” or “very high” walkability. Based on the ON TO 2050 forecast of population and jobs, these shares are projected to decrease to 38.3 and 36.2 percent, respectively, since the growth rate of population and jobs in areas of existing high walkability is in many cases lower than the growth rate in the rest of the region. This is due to the built-out nature of these areas. The forecast also prioritizes population and employment increases in areas with high to moderate transit access, even if those areas do not have high walkability today.

To increase walkability, targeted investments are required to make areas with “moderate” walkability more walkable, thereby shifting them into the “high” category. Such investments could include filling the gaps in sidewalk coverage, greater transit frequency and connectivity, improved pedestrian and bicyclist facilities, increased tree canopy cover, and a greater number or variety of amenities. Densification of population and jobs would also help communities to become more walkable. Targets have been set with the assumption that the top quartile of subzones with “moderate” walkability located in urbanized areas (ranked by their respective walkability scores) can reach “high” walkability by 2050 with targeted investments. These subzones account for approximately 2.5 percent of the region’s land area. The 2025 targets are derived from a straight-line interpolation between the 2015 and 2050 values.

2025: At least 42.6 percent of population and 39.3 percent of jobs located in areas with “high” or “very high” walkability

2050: At least 45.2 percent of population and 41.9 percent of jobs located in areas with “high” or “very high” walkability

Graphical representation of data follows. You can skip to data download
Population and jobs located in highly walkable areas
  •   Target (population)
  •   Target (jobs)
Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, 2018.
Population and jobs in walkable areas chart.

GO TO 2040 Context

This indicator is new to ON TO 2050.