The Northeast’s reputation for environmental friendliness in urban planning comes with good reason, and that reason has a lot to do with New York City. For years, The Big Apple has been a model of accessible, affordable public transportation and commuters who walk to work. Now, more cities have joined the party and plan to expand infrastructure, green space, and safety measures for those who don’t drive.
Who knows? Maybe some of these cities could take the reins from New York City in the coming years. Anything’s possible with these northeastern, green-commuting cities:
#1 New York, NY: Public Transit for All
The City That Never Sleeps still wins. It completely outstrips the competition in the public transportation category, with 55.92% of New York City commuters using mass transit. We don’t blame them: Who would want to drive in the most densely populated – and largest – city in the United States? The city’s transit system is the most complex and extensive in North America, and it saves local commuters around $19 billion annually in transportation costs. The city’s green commuters make it the most energy-efficient major city in the U.S. And you thought New York City was just your ordinary 8.3-million-resident metropolis!
#2 Union City, NJ: Haven on the Hudson
Located just 2 miles from its big sister city, Union City is making strides in the green commuter department – literally. The city ranks second on the list for percentage of commuters who walk to work with 16.24%. New greenway developments along the Hudson River and throughout Union City are on track to making the ‘Havana on the Hudson’ a green ‘Haven on the Hudson.’
#3 Cambridge, MA: Walk, Bike, Learn
While Cambridge is steeped in tradition, it’s also forward-looking. Smart residents, along with students at Harvard and MIT, make this city the best for commuters who walk (24.55%!) and bike (8.45%). An additional quarter of the city’s commuters use public transit. Residents understand climate change, so they’ve prioritized walkers over drivers when planning traffic patterns, city squares, and green travel opportunities in this 6.5-square-mile city.
#4 Jersey City, NJ: No Cars in ‘Chilltown’
Another city building moment in the shadow of NYC? Jersey City. The second-most populous city in New Jersey also has the second highest percentage of public transit commuters with 45.9%. Nearly half (40.67%) of Jersey City’s households don’t own a car, so residents make green commuting a way of life. Jersey City’s initiatives to revitalize the waterfront and downtown areas have made green commuting even better. The city plans to join East Coast Greenway, which will eventually span the East Coast from Maine to the Florida Keys. It also is adding a bike share program this summer.
#5 Boston, MA: Boston Bikes!
‘Boston Bikes!,’ the city’s bicycle accessibility initiative, has made Beantown catch the green commuting bug. The initiative, which has 5- and 30-year goals, has added bike paths, protected lanes, and shared-use paths to the city and its surrounding areas. One of the nation’s oldest cities is adapting quickly with planned green spaces and solid scores for public transit, walking, and biking commuters.
The percentage of commuters who walk, ride public transit, bike, and carpool comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Communities Survey of 2012.