How walkable is your neighborhood? Now you can calculate it online.

We’re all familiar with Zillow, the online housing value estimator. But when looking for a house, another way to measure its livability is by the walkability of the surrounding neighborhood. That means determining how many amenities and service businesses (restaurants, bars, grocery stores, fitness clubs, schools, parks, etc.) are available within walking distance.

When you go to Walkscore.com, you simply type in your address, and it calculates the walkability score by locating nearby businesses. The Walk Score is a number between 0 and 100, a higher number being more walkable. (of course, it all depends on how far you’re willing to walk, which is different for everyone). Here’s a breakdown of the scores:

* 90 - 100 = Walkers’ Paradise: Most errands can be accomplished on foot and many people get by without owning a car.
* 70 - 90 = Very Walkable: It’s possible to get by without owning a car.
* 50 - 70 = Some Walkable Locations: Some stores and amenities are within walking distance, but many everyday trips still require a bike, public transportation, or car.
* 25 - 50 = Not Walkable: Only a few destinations are within easy walking range. For most errands, driving or public transportation is a must.
* 0 - 25 = Driving Only: Virtually no neighborhood destinations within walking range. You can walk from your house to your car!

Looks like a pretty cool little online app. My current location (residential city neighborhood, with nearby commercial zones, a grocery store down the street), gets a score of 66, while a neighbor who’s a bit closer to a major street of restaurants and bars gets a 77. They even offer a cute little widget that you can add to your website.

It’s not a perfect system, though, as they admit on their website:

We’ll be the first to admit that Walk Score is just an approximation of walkability. There are a number of factors that contribute to walkability that are not part of our algorithm:

  • Street width and block length: Narrow streets slow down traffic. Short blocks make it easier to navigate the grid.
  • Safety: How much crime is in the neighborhood? How many traffic accidents are there? Are crosswalks well marked and streets well lit?
  • Pedestrian-friendly design: Are there walking paths? Are buildings close to the sidewalk with parking in back? Are sidewalks shaded by trees?
  • Topography: Hills can make walking difficult, especially if you’re carrying groceries.
  • Public transit: Good public transit is important for walkable neighborhoods.
  • Freeways and bodies of water: Freeways can divide neighborhoods. Swimming is harder than walking.
  • Weather: In some places it’s just too hot or cold to walk regularly.

As MarlonBain said, “You should use the Web 3.0 app called going outside and investigating the world for yourself” before deciding whether a neighborhood is walkable!




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COMMENTS / ONE COMMENT

Love the name of your site, and I’m having fun playing with WalkScore.com . Looks like my neighborhood is a 46.

Dana added these pithy words on May 28 08 at 6:38 pm

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