Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Walk This Way

I came across this site called "Walk Score TM". You type in an address, see a walking map. "Walk Score helps people find walkable places to live. Walk Score calculates the walkability of an address by locating nearby stores, restaurants, schools, parks, etc."
The site asks, "Why is walking important?". Some of the reasons: "Walkable neighborhoods offer surprising benefits to our health, the environment, and our communities."
*Better health
*Reduction in greenhouse gas
*More transportation options
*Increased social capital (promotes face-to-face interaction with your neighbors)
*Stronger local businesses

The scoring range:
* 90 - 100 - Walkers' paradise
* 70 - 90 = Very Walkable
* 50 - 70 = Some Walkable Locations
* 25 - 50 = Not Walkable
* 0 - 25 = Driving Only

The test is very upfront about its flaws. It doesn't factor in:
* 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.

I decided to try it out. My house in the Pine Hills of Albany got a 69, about right. My mother's a 37, which I think is high; she's not going to walk across W.T. Harris Blvd in Charlotte.
Just for fun, I did work places. My old job in downtown Albany, not far from where Bob, Lenny, and Nancy work, got an 86.
My new place in Corporate Woods a 38, which is desperately flawed, since more than half the places within a mile of the location is on the other side of Interstate 90, and, as they say, "You can't get there from here."

Still, an interesting concept.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I live east of Syracuse in the Village of Fayetteville. I have access to a sidewalk on Rt. 5 from my typical, sprawling suburban neighborhood. It's very walkable and bikable, however. It scored low--a not-walkable 42. This would be a hard area to model. The neighborhood is the last one in the "outer village" that has access to a Rt. 5 sidewalk.

Lisa Welch