In the planning world, one mile is considered walkable and one quarter of a mile is the gold standard. WalkScore.com takes that standard and gives a rating from 1-100 for an address, giving high points for things like stores, libraries, and schools within a quarter mile and diminishing points for up to a mile. The ratings seem fairly accurate, my current address gets an 83, very walkable, while the house where I grew up gets a 27, very unwalkable. That matches with my experience at both places.
WalkScore does acknowledge that they don’t account for hills, aesthetics, public transportation, weather, or safety, causing some problems in the rankings. My old Oakland address rates too high with a 91 in a neighborhood where one of my roommates got jumped on the corner. We had six liquor stores within a three block radius, but everything else was close to a mile away through rather blighted streets, so no one walked. The neighborhood was more of a cyclist’s paradise, than a walker’s. My old Berkeley address rates only a 51, moderately walkable, but it had a great series of paths and staircases connecting the streets, and people would drive to that neighborhood specifically for walking around.
Another problem is in their city rankings: they rate San Francisco as the most walkable city in the country ahead of New York. Now, San Francisco is a nice city for walking, but there’s no way it beats Manhattan. In Manhattan, you don’t even have a choice about walking, you just do it. WalkScore needs to somehow add a reality factor or an it’s-impossible-to-drive factor or something and get New York up to number one in their rankings.
Overall, though, the scores seem pretty accurate, and their website claims that real estate listings are starting to include the ratings. That could really start to make a difference in how communities are planned, if real estate agents and developers start to really value walkability.
These maps from Sightline do a great job of illustrating how community planning affects walkability. I sympathize with any poor kid or elderly person stranded on the cul-de-sac in the middle of this suburb.
– Addendum 9/21-11 –
A good article discussing the benefits of the grid at the Atlantic.
This entry was posted on Saturday, February 14th, 2009 at 9:53 am and is filed under richmond, california, sustainability. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.