Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Toolbox: Walk Score your city

Here is an interesting tool that Christopher Hart, Director of Urban and Transit Projects of the Institute for Human Centered Design in Boston brought to our attention in the last days:- Walk Score

To quote from their webpage on “How It Works”

Walk Score helps people find walkable places to live. Walk Score calculates the walkability of an address by locating nearby stores, restaurants, schools, parks, etc. Walk Score measures how easy it is to live a car-lite lifestyle—not how pretty the area is for walking.

What does my score mean? Your Walk Score is a number between 0 and 100. Here are general guidelines for interpreting your score:

90–100 = Walkers' Paradise: Most errands can be accomplished on foot and many people get by without owning a car.
70–89 = Very Walkable: It's possible to get by without owning a car.
50–69 = Somewhat Walkable: Some stores and amenities are within walking distance, but many everyday trips still require a bike, public transportation, or car.
25–49 = Car-Dependent: Only a few destinations are within easy walking range. For most errands, driving or public transportation is a must.
0–24 = Car-Dependent (Driving Only): Virtually no neighborhood destinations within walking range. You can walk from your house to your car!

The Walk Score™ Algorithm: Walk Score uses a patent-pending system to measure the walkability of an address. The Walk Score algorithm awards points based on the distance to the closest amenity in each category. If the closest amenity in a category is within .25 miles (or .4 km), we assign the maximum number of points. The number of points declines as the distance approaches 1 mile (or 1.6 km)—no points are awarded for amenities further than 1 mile. Each category is weighted equally and the points are summed and normalized to yield a score from 0–100. The number of nearby amenities is the leading predictor of whether people walk. (Your Walk Score may change as our data sources are updated or as we improve our algorithm. Check out how Walk Score doesn't work.

What do you think makes a neighborhood walkable? We built the Walk Score algorithm to measure the factors that we think are important to walkability. What makes a neighborhood walkable to you? Let us know and we'll publish your answers on our blog.

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For the rest click to

Now the World Streets angle on this. Until now their algorithm works only in the US. So we got in touch and asked about what would be needed to make this into an international tool. To which they answered “we are looking into how we can open source Walk Score to collaborate with people on making it work better internationally. We're a small, but hard working, team so we're not there yet, but we hope to be soon.”

So if you have any ideas about how to bring this (or something like it) to your city, you may want to exchange some thoughts with Mike Maisen at . And keep us informed, since I am sure that many of us living outside the US would like to see how our city stacks up. (I know I would.)

The Editor

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1 comment:

  1. Review of Walk Score by Heather Fenyk of Rutgers University, for the National Center for Walking and Bicycling (NCBW).

    RESOURCE NAME: WalkScore

    AUTHOR: Front Seat Software for Civic Life


    DATE PUBLISHED: First on-line July 2007, new data added daily

    WalkScore uses quantitative evaluations for comparison purposes, merging several layers of information (Google Maps, Zillow real estate, 2000 census, and a neighborhood boundary overlay) to find the stores, restaurants, bars, parks and other amenities within walking distance of any address entered into the search bar. The algorithm provides a score for each address. The greater the distance the amenities, the fewer points are awarded. The most desirable scores are between 70 and 100: 90-100 is considered a walkers' paradise where residents don't need to own a car. Below 70 and you get into the neighborhoods that are somewhat walkable but probably necessitate public transportation, a bike or a car for getting around. A score below 50 means the community is car-dependent, and a score below 25 means residents need to drive everywhere.

    The emphasis of WalkScore is on evaluating communities as they are currently configured and comparing WalkScores between communities. The scoring device does not provide descriptive or specific advice on how to improve communities. A low score might help leverage attention to a problem area, but will not help communities identify how to effect change. WalkScore does not include such factors as topography, street design, available public transportation or bodies of water in its rankings. It in that it calculates as the crow flies, lost are considerations of how attractive, clean, or safe a neighborhood is – additional factors in walkability. Lastly, WalkScore is only as accurate and up-to-date as its data sources, which may not reflect real-time changes in amenity provision.

    WalkScore is most frequently used by realtors to score neighborhoods, ranking neighborhood “walkability” based on proximity to selected destination types. WalkScore is best used to help people find walkable communities in which to live. Front Seat Software writes: “Our vision is for every property listing to read: Beds: 3 Baths:2 WalkScore: 84.”


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