I want to share a site I’ve been in love with for a long time and watched from need, to idea, to conception, to phenomenon. It’s called Walk Score. It uses Google, US Census data, and Zillow to measure how walkable a given address is, based on its proximity to places people go to daily. Each address is given a walkscore which you can then compare to any other address in the US. I like it so much because it strikes right at the heart of my personal belief that only through walkable neighborhoods will US cities defeat the scourge of global warming, air and noise pollution, traffic congestion, automobile accidents, social alienation and obesity among others.
The site has also compiled lots of great lists of the best (and worst) places to walk in the country. Portland ranks no. 10, primarily because we have a relatively low population density and a high number of single family houses, however not bad for the 23rd largest metropolitan area. It’s fun to poke around and see what neighborhoods really have it figured out.
It measures an address’ proximity to neighborhood assets such as grocery stores, restaurants, coffee shops, bars, movie theaters, schools parks, libraries, fitness studios, drug stores, hardware stores, and clothing. Of course it isn’t perfect, it lists the porn shop near my house as a bookstore and the beer, cigarettes and junk food minimart on the corner as a grocery store, but it’s a start!
If we rewarded people, neighborhoods and governments for their walkscores, I believe our cities would become much more livable much more quickly.
Give it a try!