Our Neighborhood Walk Score

A cou­ple of months ago, I came across a web site that works with Google Maps to eval­u­ate how pedes­tri­an-friend­ly our address is. The more ameni­ties (shops, restau­rants, gro­cers, parks, libraries, fit­ness cen­ters. etc.) that you can reach with­in a rea­son­able radius, the high­er your ‘walk score’. Up until recent­ly, there was a glitch in the sys­tem that kept it from doing an accu­rate plot of where address­es were in Cana­da, but after I alert­ed them, they’ve fixed the prob­lem (it involved some incor­rect con­ver­sion of kilo­me­ters to miles, an issue that has been known to crash Mars probes, among oth­er things). Now, it’s spot on, and I was pleased to see that our address has a walk score of 88 out of a pos­si­ble 100.

When I checked our old address, Lilac Court in Cam­bridge, MA, at Walk Score, we actu­al­ly had a slight­ly high­er score of 95 (again, out of 100), but that decrease by 7 points hard­ly feels very sig­nif­i­cant. When I lived at 2 Chester Street, also in Cam­bridge, the score was 91, and in under­grad­u­ate school, when I lived at 616 Straight Street in Cincin­nati, my score was 72. I think my all-time low score (a 0, of course) must have been when I lived on For­est Lawn Road, just out­side of Rochester, New York. The clos­est place to there, on foot, was a bar, well over a mile away along a road with no sidewalk.

As Walk Score points out, “Buy­ing a house in a walk­a­ble neigh­bor­hood is good for your health and good for the envi­ron­ment.” It’s prob­a­bly worth adding that these days, with the price of gas being what it is, that it’s clear­ly good for your wal­let as well.

When we first moved here and did­n’t have a car, I lost a lot of weight, main­ly from the amount of walk­ing we did. We walked every­where, both for shop­ping and to get to know the area. Despite not get­ting to see as much of Van­cou­ver as we might have, I cer­tain­ly was health­i­er. After near­ly a year of com­mut­ing (most­ly by car) to IBM, I real­ly put on the pounds, and it’s tough to get them back off again.

Try out their site, and see how your neigh­bor­hood fares. In most cas­es, you’ll prob­a­bly be able to pre­dict the score, but once or twice I was sur­prised by either how much low­er or high­er the score was from what I’d thought it would be.

11 Replies to “Our Neighborhood Walk Score”

  1. We got a 95 score, David. 

    If the busi­ness­es were more accu­rate, I’ll bet we would have had a 100. This is exact­ly why we tried to buy in the West End.

    Once we get up there, we’re get­ting rid of the car to get slim and trim, too .…

  2. A 27, the exact same as my old address — this can’t be right, the old address was pret­ty dis­mal while this one is far, far bet­ter. Yikes…

  3. Bob — I for­got to men­tion park­ing (if you have no car, you don’t need it; if you don’t move it from the place you had found or if it’s in a parkade). This takes a fair amount off of trav­el time, and in some rare cas­es, can make up for the time saved by driving!

    Mak­taaq — I sus­pect they aren’t includ­ing some new­er busi­ness­es and also the Sky­train sta­tion that’s far clos­er to your new address. Come to think of it, near­ness to mass tran­sit should be fac­tored in across the board, although it may take the focus off ‘walk­a­bil­i­ty’ ver­sus ‘liv­abil­i­ty with­out using a car to get everywhere’.

  4. We’ve got the 95 here at Lilac Court, but it lists a book­store that is gone, a library that is real­ly a lab­o­ra­to­ry and a mys­te­ri­ous drug store we’ve nev­er heard of…

  5. Bethany — If you get a moment, send Walkscore an email about the errors. I kept after them for the prob­lem in Van­cou­ver, (which was due to the kilo­me­ter-to-mile con­ver­sion, although I did­n’t know that) and they did fix it. The data prob­lems may or may not be with­in their con­trol. At any rate, at least they’ll know and can pass on the issues to who­ev­er might be able to update the data.

  6. I can’t imag­ine liv­ing in a neigh­bor­hood with a low “walk score”. Oh, wait. I can. I lived there. It sucked.

    Yup. I have to be in the thick of things. Besides, it’s bet­ter for the envi­ron­ment. And I hate dri­ving anyway.

  7. Hi Jonathon — It is inter­est­ing how qual­i­ty of life seems to be linked with such a sim­ple thing as walk­ing. On the oth­er hand, one per­son­’s stroll to a café is anoth­er’s Urban Night­mare. Some peo­ple would describe a good walk as one along the beach or in a lush, wilder­ness trail. Per­haps the whole walk score thing needs to have 2 ‘fla­vors’; one for peo­ple who like to walk in the city, and one for those who like to walk in the countryside.

    I know what you mean about dri­ving. It always makes me laugh (and per­haps get a lit­tle angry) to see all of those car com­mer­cials, where the voice-over extols the plea­sures of dri­ving, and we see the car they are sell­ing sail­ing over near­ly emp­ty roads, past attrac­tive land­scapes or city scenes (depend­ing on the demo­graph­ic). You nev­er see much traf­fic (except for that goofy one for the car that bounces over it when the pas­sen­gers get enough oomph behind it). Now, I expect we’ll be see­ing a lot of com­mer­cials for how much gaso­line a mod­el saves — but again, it will not be stuck in traf­fic, where (except for the Prius, at present), you burn the most fos­sil fuel as the engine idles. The whole ‘car cul­ture’ is still here, nevertheless.

  8. I’m sort of sur­prised at how low Mount Pleas­an­t’s Walk Score is. 78 does­n’t seem like a lot. But its’ good though!

  9. My walk score is just 20 so as you see my present neighborhood
    is not very walk­a­ble. This ser­vice can be espe­cial­ly useful
    for those who are going to buy a house cause it can help to
    esti­mate a par­tic­u­lar loca­tion. But how often do we walk nowadays?
    I ve found one more ser­vice called dri­ve score at
    http://drivescore.fizber.com/ With it one can see how close
    estab­lish­ments are by car. Homes are often locat­ed in an
    area where restau­rants, libraries, gro­cery stores,
    hos­pi­tals and oth­er busi­ness­es are eas­i­er to get to by car than on foot.

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