"Walkability" is the new buzz word in real estate, but how do you measure a neighborhood's walkability? A great new website, WalkScore.com, helps you determine just how walkable a neighborhood really is, but how does it define walkability? From the "How It Works" section of the web site:
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. Walk Score measures how easy it is to live a car-lite lifestyle—not how pretty the area is for walking.
Public transits options, street width and block length, street design, safety from crime, and weather are just a few of the factors not included in Walk Score's calculations. Nearby amenities such as grocery stores, cafe, schools, churches, libraries, etc., are the only factors, with amenities closer than a 1/4 mile receiving the maximum number of points, fewer points awarded for those between 1/4 and 1 mile, and no points for those farther away than a mile. Type in an address, watch the site tally a home's walk score, and see if the home is a "Walker's Paradise," "Very Walkable," "Somewhat Walkable," "Car-Dependent," or "Car-Dependent (Driving Only)." The site operates on the assumption that the greater a home's Walk Score (that is, the greater the number of amenities within a mile radius of that home), the more inclined a person is to walk (thus leading a more active lifestyle), and the more desirable that home will be to potential buyers.
Here are my Walk Scores:
I grew up in a neighborhood in Northwest Oklahoma City called The Village, a name that might suggest pedestrian heaven; in reality, it wasn't so divine, but it wasn't so bad either. A decent Walk Score of 54. There was a square nearby, with a library and grocery store and even a Church's Fried Chicken and my school.
My first off-campus apartment in tiny Lexington, VA, had a slightly improved score of 60. Of course, I drove everywhere.
After college, I lived in two different apartments in Cincinnati, OH: one in a hillside area called Mt. Adams overlooking downtown and the Ohio River and distinguished by ornately painted Victorian homes. People called it "The San Francisco of Cincinnati." It had a Very Walkable score of 83. The second was in the much more urban neighborhood of Mt. Auburn, which also sat on a hill overlooking downtown and had a Very Walkable score of 86; the difference was this apartment was owned by an eccentric art collector who kept a Picasso and a Pollack hanging in the upstairs unit. Too bad I had a 40-minute commute by car to work.
Then I sold my car and moved to Boston, which bills itself as "America's Walking City." My first apartment, near Berklee College, was a Walker's Paradise at 100. My second apartment, just down the road on the border of South End and Roxbury, and three doors down from a funeral home, was a real downer by comparison: it had a 97. I next lived in a Cambridge home that had a 92 and then a Somerville apartment with a score of 89. My current pad, in Jamaica Plain, has a score of 91. My god, have I really lived in five apartments since 2002? Yes, and the lowest one with a Walk Score of 89! Boston has spoiled me. Thank goodness for that. We have a car now, but we only seem to use it on the weekends.
So, readers, if you exist, if you care, I'm curious to know what your Walk Score is. Do me a favor and visit WalkScore.com, type in your address, and then leave a comment here at Oklachusetts saying where you live (no addresses, just the general area) and what your Walk Score is. And if walkability is as big a deal to you as it is to me, then take few minutes to sign this petition to tell Congress to support walking, biking, and public transportation in the 2009 Transportation Bill.