Walk Score

Tuesday 24 July 2007

Here's a really nice Google Maps application: Walk Score. Enter your address, it uses the Google Maps API to find businesses and facilities in a walkable distance from your house, and ranks your location based on how "walkable" it is.

My house earned a hefty 83 out of 100. One of the reasons I like living where I do is because I can walk to so many things. My kids get annoyed at my insistence that we walk to the video store when we could also drive there, but I agree with Walk Score's excerpt from the Sightline Institute:

Step by step, the extra walking helps the family in the compact neighborhood remain, well, compact. They keep off weight and exercise more, helping to prevent chronic ailments such as diabetes and heart disease. Fewer miles in cars—and perhaps more in buses—keep them safer from fatal or debilitating crashes. The air they breathe may even be cleaner than their suburban counterparts’, especially if they spend less time in the “pollution tunnel” of busy highways. And they may interact with their neighbors more, which helps connect them to their community and fosters close friendships within their own neighborhood. This in turn may help buoy their health and lift their spirits in hard times.

Walk Score is also a nicely-designed site, with a sense of humor: next to the "How it Works" link is the known bugs page, titled "How it Doesn't Work".

Comments

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Dan Schwarz 10:45 AM on 24 Jul 2007

Walk Score is brilliant. The algorithm is very sensitive - my neighborhood (UWS, Manhattan) rates a 95%, but if I walk one block East, I'm in a 100% zone. When I finally decide to move out of the city, I'll use this tool to find a place in New Jersey with a decent Walk Score.

The tool focuses on neighborhood walkability, but it'd be nice to have a public transportation score as well.

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Dennis Doughty 2:58 PM on 24 Jul 2007

Wow. I get a 92 for my neighborhood, which completely validates our home-buying decision, as walkability was our primary goal. (Well, primary after "house" as opposed to "condo," as the condo we moved from scores a 95...)

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Paul Downs 4:17 PM on 24 Jul 2007

I was surprised at my low score of 72 (suburban Phila, sidewalk neighborhood with town center, and I walk or ride a bike to EVERYTHING) until I looked at the list and realized the Google Maps was missing the closest local park and lots of local businesses. And also didn't seem to take into account the proximity of trains - I can literally walk to the local train, hook up with Amtrak downtown, and travel all over the country without ever using a car. So although this is a good start, it still needs some work.

Paul Downs

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Chris Nelson 6:51 PM on 24 Jul 2007

Have a score of 75, which amazed me, but I realized I had the same issues with Google that Paul discovered. I can work everywhere except to work and the gym, which have moved to different locales in the last year.

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Richard Schwartz 8:55 PM on 24 Jul 2007

Only 31 for me, and that's a bit inflated by bad data. E.g., it lists Digital Equipment Corporation as the nearest library. It's the Spit Brook Road location they're referring to, which if it had a library was certainly not open to the public -- and it hasn't been DEC for how many years?? Plus, it lists a McDonalds that doesn't exist, a "Movie Theater" that is really a video store, and several other questionable locations.

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Donna Baker 5:34 PM on 25 Jul 2007

Well, living in Carlisle gets a score of 0, but I knew that. There is something to be said for being rural too. If I choose to walk, I pass horses and cows in pastures. Thanks for the Walk Score though, Ned! (And hi to Dan and Richard ;-)

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Nancy Bea 7:12 AM on 26 Jul 2007

Hey Ned, I see we're in complete agreement on the topic of walking whenever possible. In fact, one of the criteria we usedd in choosing our current neighborhood was its sidewalks and local businesses. So, I was surprised when the score was only in the 70's, but realized there are still bugs in this system Our three most frequently walked-to destinations aren't even listed: the local convenience store (Wawa), office supply store (Staples), and toy store (actually, there are two!) didn't make the list! And neither did the park and playground three blocks from our house or the French bakery, one delicious mile away...a frequent destination. Hmm. Nonetheless, I like the whole concept of the site.

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