Saving time is an important priority for most people, and according to a new report on CNN Living, how much time you can save in the course of an ordinary day may depend on where you live. CNN Living analyzed extensive data on dozens of large American cities to identify the locations where it’s easiest for people to make the most of time.
Five measures of efficiency
Little things can make big differences when it comes to getting through a day as efficiently as possible. The report identified five simple criteria for measuring urban time-efficiency and ranked cities based on their combined scores in all categories.
1. Ease of movement and travel (traffic congestion, commute and walking efficiency, airport timeliness)
2. Ready accessibility of health and safety services (waiting times for medical appointments, number of physicians, emergency response times)
3. Availability of information and technology (broadband and wireless, bookstores and libraries, telephone hotlines)
4. Environmentally sensitive time-savers (efficient and inexpensive recycling programs, bicycle friendliness, farmers’ markets, community gardens)
5. Lifestyle time-savers (take-out restaurant food, personal trainers, personal organizers)
Honorable mention for a sixth modern convenience
Ready availability of payday installment loans and short term loans for bad credit didn’t merit a separate time-efficiency category in the CNN Living report. In all major U.S. cities, however, the best payday loans can be found online very quickly; and logically, their availability is subsumed in the information and technology category.
Ten top time-saving cities
1. Seattle. Seattle boasts extensive public-transit systems and a state-of-the-art signal-optimization program that synchronizes hundreds of traffic lights to promote smooth vehicular travel through the city. Seattle is also known to have one of the most on-time airports in the country, and in the last two years, the city has added 50 miles of new bike lanes. Seattle has several Neighborhood Service Centers where people can pay utility bills and parking tickets, apply for passports and even hold a hearing with a magistrate — all in one stop. Waiting times for doctor appointments are said to be short. Not surprisingly, the city has more coffee shops than any other city in the U.S. as well as the most Wi-Fi spots.
2. Portland, Ore. Bike-friendly Portland is home to the nation’s fourth-largest light-rail system, and airport delays are few. Emergency services are so responsive that the city has one of the country’s highest cardiac-arrest survival rates. Equally important from a time-saving perspective, finding an inexpensive lunch is reputed to be very easy.
3. San Francisco. San Francisco offers smart technology to help residents make the most of time. San Francisco ties Seattle for the most booksellers per capita and offers an endless array of fast dining options. San Francisco has a 24-hour 311 information hotline, a 511 hotline and online services providing updates on biking, public-transit and traffic conditions.
4. Boston. Not only does Boston have the highest walk-to-work rate in the nation, it also offers technological tools such as Boston’s Citizens Connect app for instant reporting of problems or complaints (with or without photos for proof) from an iPhone. Single-stream recycling pickup means residents don’t spend time sorting, and abundant farmers’ markets make “green” a time-efficient choice.
5. Minneapolis. Minneapolis is number one for farmers’ markets, number two for bicycle accessibility and among the top few in terms of community gardens per capita. Snow alerts are available via text message, e-mail and online social networks. No matter how cold the day, in just a minute and a half, residents get hot Neapolitan pies at Punch Pizza, a popular Twin Cities restaurant chain.
6. Denver. Denver offers a city-wide bicycle-share program that makes commuting by bike a time-efficient choice. Waits for doctor visits are short, and Denver has the largest number of certified personal trainers per capita in the nation. Denver also speeds the flow of information with wide-spread library services and internet accessibility.
7. Washington, D.C. The nation’s capital has the second-highest non-car commuting rate and one of the highest ratios of farmers’ markets to population. Other time-savers include proportionally large numbers of take-out restaurants, certified personal trainers, and professional organizers.
8. Pittsburgh. Public transit in Pittsburgh is impressive for a city of its size. Most notably, the system includes three bus-only highways to maximize commute-time efficiency. Pittsburgh is also one of the top five cities in the country in terms of the number of bookstores per capita.
9. Miami. Miami has the highest number of doctors per capita of any city surveyed, which should translate to short wait times for appointments. It’s also easy to save time when parking on Miami city streets. Miami is the first major U.S. city to make it possible to pay for street parking by cell phone. Not only do you save time by not having to run somewhere for meter change, when you pay by cell phone, text alerts tell you when time is running out. Miami also has widely available internet access, free single-stream curb recycling, and a wide array of take-out food.
10. Atlanta. Atlanta has the shortest wait for doctor’s visits of all cities surveyed. Traffic moves at a snail’s pace, but the city makes up for lost time with abundant community gardens and an efficient recycling program.
Eleven more time-efficient cities
To see how Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City and eight other major U.S. cities help people save time, read the full report at CNN Living.