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Saturday, July 19, 2008

How Walkable is Your Neighbourhood?

To answer that question, you could go outside and try walking around and see how well it goes, or for those who prefer the virtual to the physical, go to Walkscore.com and type in your address. Based on things like density and proximity to shops and services, the software will give a ranking. It works for the US, Canada and the UK.

Of course, the really cool thing is seeing how walkable other cities and neighbourhoods are - you know, the ones you can't access by stepping outside your door. Unsurprisingly, San Francisco and New York City and Boston are the most walkable cities in the USA.

They don't have rankings of the most walkable cities in Canada, but you can search for addresses to get a score. Toronto didn't fare too badly, but it depends on where you live, really.

What does this all mean? They explain:
Picture a walkable neighborhood. You lose weight each time you walk to the grocery store. You stumble home from last call without waiting for a cab. You spend less money on your car—or you don't own a car. When you shop, you support your local economy. You talk to your neighbors.
(Screenshot found here)

Walk Score admits there are many features currently overlooked by the software - like weather, design, safety, or topography, but it is still a pretty cool tool. Via Grist.

3 comments:

Deb Prothero said...

RedJenny;

Thanks for posting this site. It follows very nicely on Jane Jacobs idea of walkable neighbourhoods.

The only problem with the site, at least for my address, is that they have insufficient businesses listed to give an accurate reflection. For example, the closest grocery store that is identified is over 28 km away in London. In actual fact, there is one within about 3 blocks of my house and I regularly walk there.

The system also says there is no coffee shop identified while the city I live in has the highest per capita in Canada of Tim Horton's coffee outlets - 7 for a population of 32,000. In addition there are a handful of independent coffee shops.

I guess there are hitches to every good idea. The score for my home is 28 out of 100 but I would say that it is much, much higher. The only probable is that it can't identify all the businesses yet.

Still a good idea!

Saskboy said...

I was just talking about walkability in my neighbourhood, and how improving it relates to getting us off of carbon fuel within 10 years. Thanks for the link to this service.

Kuri said...

Yeah, I had the same problem, though I don't know whether that's a Walkscore issue or a Google Maps issue. It lists the nearest grocery store to my home as 2 km away when I know there's one just 1 block away.

Also, I was amused that they'd listed a restaurant - The Hardware Grill - under the category "hardware stores".

Still, neat idea.