How Walkable Is Your Neighborhood?

This one is only for Americans at the moment, and then only those in major cities, but it is a great idea that I hope will be extended. Walk Score is a web site that tells you how “walkable” a particular neighborhood is: that is, how sort of amenities are within easy walking distance of an address. It is primarily intended for people who are looking to move home, but I’m sure it will have other uses as well.

Obviously the site isn’t going to be perfect. I looked up where Kevin lives (and I used to live when I was allowed into the US) and we got a score of 89, which is very impressive. I wonder, however, if it knows that the little grocery store over the road is a small place selling mainly processed food and alcohol that we only ever use when we are out of milk. It usefully finds a bookstore less than half a mile away, but it may not realize that it is an Islamic bookstore selling only copies of the Q’ran and other religious texts. And, being typically American, the rating completely ignores the fact that we live almost on top of a railway station. But it is a great idea for a web business. I hope some of you find it useful.

(Hat tip to Michael Giberson at Knowledge Problem).

8 thoughts on “How Walkable Is Your Neighborhood?

  1. Just checked it with my house and it’s not particularly accurate in distances.

    I walk to the library once in a while and I definitely walk to/from a close garage after dropping the car for this and that check-up, repair, and the closest grocery store named is farther than both, though put considerably closer by the site.

    Basically they show my house at about 1/4 mile to the east from the actual place in regards to the store distances, so in a way the site is useful for a general overview, but kind of wrong for its intended purposes of “walkability” in this case.

  2. Wow! This is fun, and potentially useful. My house got a 40, which is fairly accurate, despite some problems with the details they relied on to get the score. Although there are four grocery stores in a 2.5 mile radius, they listed the minimart at the corner gas station as the nearest grocery. The cafe they list no longer exists, etc. And they really need to refine their definition of “book store”! Overall, though, it gave a good sense of the neighborhood. Thanks, Cheryl!

  3. Duh. There’s a drop-down menu, so all the places I consider real groceries are, in fact, listed. More coffee. Right now.

  4. That’s a fun website to play with. It’s not entirely accurate, but it does seem to be a good approximation. It included a couple of home-based businesses not open to the general public in its findings. Taking those into account, that gives our current house a score of 13 (fueled by the many nearby parks). One of the many reasons we’re trying to move.

  5. Hmm, my city (a suburb of Cleveland, OH) got a 62 and also lists a local gas station as a grocery store when they mostly just have chips, soda, beer, and milk. It also lists the bookstore in the mall (slightly more than a half a mile away) as being there, when it has closed down within the last couple months.

    The 62 is a “somewhat walkable” score, and I think I would agree when I was without a car a few years back.

  6. My address got a perfect 100, which is probably quite accurate; it is an urban area and more walkable than most neighborhoods.

    That said, there were various inaccuracies. Four of the eight closest movie theaters are not, in fact, movie theaters, but businesses misclassified as such. A law firm’s library was shown as the closest library; while it does in fact exist at that location, that’s not too useful to the general public who would not be allowed in, nor would they find the kinds of books most of them might be looking for if they were allowed in.

    Also, the address where I grew up was shown as car-dependent with an 18 score, which is also reasonably accurate; there are basically no businesses within a mile’s walk from there. (Some businesses are shown closer than a mile as the crow flies, but getting there in the distance shown would require one to swim.)

  7. Well, it gave me an 86, but only by listing two very nearby bookstores which have actually been gone for several years.
    Most of the other categories look pretty right, though. And there doesn’t seem to be a category for public transit, where I’m actually excellently situated.

  8. One fannish application that comes to mind is using WalkScore to evaluate potential convention sites. Obviously, some of the items listed are not too relevant for that purpose (such as schools), but many people would find it useful to know what is within walking distance in terms of restaurants, bars, and coffee shops.

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