Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Tuesday, July 12, 2016

2009 graduate Rodriguez co-authors Walkable Urban Places report

Michael Rodriguez Michael Rodriguez

Michael Rodriguez (MPA/MSURP '09) co-authored his first major publication as director of research at Smart Growth American/George Washington University. The report, Foot Traffic Ahead 2016, ranks the country’s top 30 metropolitan areas based on the amount of commercial development in Walkable Urban Places (WalkUPs).

Across the 30 metro areas, the research found 619 regionally significant WalkUPs. The WalkUPs gained office, retail, and rental multi-family market share against drivable suburban competition for the first time in almost 60 years.

High-ranking areas showed higher education levels and nearly 50 percent higher gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. The report updates a similar 2014 report; with the 2016 edition including factors such as affordable housing and potential displacement in gentrifying neighborhoods in addition to economic performance metrics.

Washington, DC, New York City, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle ranked among the top areas for walkable urbanism, while Phoenix, Los Angeles, and metropolitan Detroit are best-positioned for future growth of walkability, the research found.

Rodriguez said the La Follette School’s Workshop course and the Department of Urban and Regional Planning’s (URPL’s) practicum prepared him for professional projects like this. “Assessing a major public policy question such as the role of walkability in decisions about the built environment is a core skill that the La Follette School and URPL prepares students for.”

Before joining Smart Growth America, Rodriguez had extensive private-sector experience in transportation and economics consulting. He has written reports on several major projects, including California High Speed Rail, and serves on the Citizen’s Advisory Committee of the Metropolitan Washington Transportation Planning Board.

As a La Follette student, Rodriguez participated in the prestigious Eno Leadership Development Conference with 19 other graduate students from across the United States and served as an intern with the Chicago Transit Authority.