Can you walk to buy groceries? To school or work? To your favorite restaurant? To the nearest hospital? These are just a few of the factors that are
taken into account when determining just how walkable a neighborhood is. Walkscore.com
ranks neighborhoods in the US,
Canada, and the United Kingdom
on a scale of 1-100 for their walkability. A neighborhood with a score below 50 is considered
"car-dependent." A score of 90 to 100 is a "Walker’s
Paradise." Sarah C., resident blogger here at MWW, lives
in a DC neighborhood with a Walk Score of 98. And, to boot, she walks to work every day!
With skyrocketing gas prices and increasing rates of
obesity in our country, it’s no wonder people are becoming more concerned about
the walkability of their communities. What
makes a neighborhood walkable? According
to Walk Score, it’s about having a pedestrian-friendly central area of town
where most businesses, schools, and public spaces are located. The site recently released a list of the most
– and least – walkable communities in the country, with San Francisco and New York
coming out on top. Certain neighborhoods
in these cities scored a perfect 100! (e.g. San Fran’s Chinatown)
Walk Scores for cities with the highest walkability …
1. San Francisco: 86
… and the lowest walkability
36. Oklahoma City: 43
Scott Arbeit, who moved from Boston to Seattle to
work for Microsoft, says sometimes he goes a week without moving his car from
the driveway in his new neighborhood of Ballard, which has a Walk Score of 83.
He walks for daily errands and gets to work on a connector bus run by
Microsoft. He says that alone saves him $9 a day, and potentially more than
$2,000 a year.
"But it’s not really about the money," he says.
"I was choosing a lifestyle, kind of pushing the reset button on my
Personally, I grew up in a suburb that was ranked 42 by
Walk Score (not good, but not bad). But,
I never walked anywhere when I lived there, even when my destination was less
than a mile away. Conversely, I am now
living in an urban area where I walk almost everywhere, even if it ends up
taking longer than other modes of transportation. It seems that the infrastructure of suburbs was
built for driving, not walking, especially since many suburb-dwellers drive
into nearby cities for work each day.
How did your neighborhood score? Do
you think it’s accurate? How often do
you walk to amenities or services in your area?
Sara R. for My
Picture of downtown Buenos Aires, Argentina, courtesy "Ricardo’s Blog."