My house gets a 77 out of 100; my office, a 92. Want to know how walkable your neighborhood is? Or the neighborhood you’re thinking of living in? Go to walkscore.com.
Three Seattle uber-hackers, Jesse Kocher, Matt Lerner, and Mike Mathieu, built this addicting new website. It maps the closest grocery store, restaurant, and several other businesses you might walk to from any address in the United States or Canada. It also gives each location a “Walk Score.” (You can even watch the site tally up the score. It’s awesome!)
What’s especially exciting to me is that Walk Score marks the successful completion of a quest I launched more than a year ago. (It started all the way back in Car-less #2 “One Mile from Home” and continued in Car-less #20 “Googling Google.”)
Yes, walkshed maps are here—and cooler by far than even I imagined. J, M, and M took my idea, improved it, and built the website. Obviously, they’ve got some chops: they claim to have done the project in a couple of weeks.
Walk Score does not count every single business within a one-mile walkshed, as I originally proposed. Instead, it calculates the distance to the closest business in each of a list of commonly used categories such as grocery stores, restaurants, and coffee shops. It assigns points based on the distance to these amenities, then averages the score. This simpler strategy works well and generates great maps.
The most far-reaching impact of this tool would be if realtors began publishing the Walk Scores of their property listings, much in the same way that they promote local schools. That step could send ripples through the real estate market, subtly tilting the scales toward compact communities over sprawling ones. Ultimately, this shift would improve health, reduce fuel bills and oil imports, and slow climate disruption. (So, please send all your friends who are in the real estate business to Walk Score!)
And the most fun aspect of the tool is the Walk Scores of Celebrity Locations. Who’d have guessed that Jennifer Aniston’s character in the sitcom “Friends” had a Walk Score of 100 at her fictional apartment in New York City, but that Jennifer Aniston herself (pre-breakup) had a Walk Score of just 3 at her home in California?
In any case, check out your own score, and share the tool with friends at www.walkscore.com. Then, come back here to record your score in the comments thread below. What’s your Walk Score?
That’s extremely cool. 77 here in downtown Issaquah too.
63 in Vancouver, BC, but it’s probably higher considering that Google says the closest school is in Blaine, WA (25 mi) and the closest movie theater is 39 miles away.
Eric de Place
A somewhat surprising 80 in east Ballard. I was a bit chagrined, however, to find out that the nearest listed bar is the one inside Sunset Bowling Lanes.Sungsu, they’re sorting out a couple of unforeseen technical glitches, one of which involves addresses in Canada. Hang tight.
Carless in Seattle
A happy 92 in Capitol Hill.
Omir the Storyteller
Well, ya got me beat. Mine is 80 in Greenwood. This app has a couple of kinks—for instance, Diva Espresso Bar is listed under both “coffee shops” and “bars”—but a good effort nonetheless.
Cool! My Eugene apartment has a Walk Score of 95! There’s even a movie theater, a healthfood store, and a bookstore, all less than 1/2-mile away, that I didn’t even know about since I haven’t taken that route before. I love how the Walk Score Map shows not just their general locations, but also gives their precise addresses and phone numbers. (What great advertising for them!)One rather cute thing about this map, though, is that it needs to learn the difference between a Park and a Recreation Equipment store since it listed that store as being the closest Park…
83 in Portland. Interestingly enough if I use the exact same house # one street over my score jumped 10 points!
Ouch, 2 at Ames Lake in Remond and only a 66 in our old Neighborhood near Roanoke on N. Cap hill. We don’t get points for being near a trail system and and lake. I’m sensing urban bias – we deserve at least a 4.If we were to move back to the city, I would love to see a Walk Score for a given property. Realtors should pay attention. I’d also love to see a tool that calculated monthly transportation costs. You plug in your work address and it gives you the monthly transportation costs – perhaps factoring in time lost – of a given home location. Then it shows you how much more you could afford if you moved closer to work or a higher walk score area. It might help temper the drive-till-you-qualify mentality.
Matt the Engineer
I like that Arie. It would even be nice to see a rush hour commute time map – I bet whatever system that informs the freeway “24 minutes to Seattle” signs could be used to produce this (GPS on busses?). That would be a useful real estate tool.About once a week I think about how much I love where I live. It’s generally while I’m walking to the grocery store, or the libary, or to work… And my neighborhood is only an 85. I’ll definately use this tool if I ever move.
My NE Portland address only gets a 46, but I think it’s because everything is over 1/2 mile away. We have everything, including 4 grocery stores, coffee shops, theaters, etc. within roughly 1 mile, though. Maybe I need to create a bike score website to give these types of neighborhoods their props.
It’s cool, but not perfect. Circle K is my nearest “grocery store”, an engineering firm is my nearest “library”, and a theater that’s been closed for the past six years is my closest movie theater. But I assume the weakness there is the database they’re using more than anything.I live in SE Corvallis. Score is 40, which is pretty accurate. It’s not the best neighborhood for commercial walks, but biking is easy enough.
Very cool, although I feel pretty pathetic with a score of only 23. No surprise since I live in suburbia.Here are two things that would increase my score:1. Patrick’s “Bikeability” web site. Downtown Mercer Island & Factoria are both within a comfortable bike ride’s distance – Mostly on a dedicated bike/pedestrian trail. (I prefer poverty rock because it is more bike friendly)2. Transit facilities should be worth more points. I have a 222 stop a block from my house. South Bellevue park & ride, with service to Seattle, Bellevue, Renton, Factoria, Eastgate, and Sea-Tac airport, is a pleasant .9 mile walk or bike ride. (Carhead alert: Park & ride? What about biking and walking? Maybe it’s time for a name change)
So here’s the thing. My building scored a respectable 65 as far as proximity to businesses, and I even learned about some businesses I did not know about before.The problem with this scoring system though is that it does nothing to provide information avout factors that are big obstacles to walkability. Do I have to cross a busy street? If so is there a stoplight nearby? Is the traffic signal an audible signal or one where I can always expect to have to press a button to cross the desired direction?Does the route involve a really steep grade that will be diffiuclt for someone in a wheelchair or someoen with bad knees? Is everything I want across a major freeway with no pedestrian-safe route for miles? Do I have to walk across uncontrolled freeway onramps to get to the location?I think it would be an interesting combination of data integration and individual route ratings, say collected from a site like this, to come up with that rating.One way to do a custom rating: give people the option of checking concerns such as traffic signal issues, availability fo curb cuts, steep grade…. and then allow them to calcualte a custom rating for their preferences which might be different than the ones specificed here.
Insanely useful. My wife and I are apartment-hunting in Seattle and are plugging apartment addresses from housingmaps.com into Walk Score. Do that, and then plug your information into an online carbon footprint calculator and you’re all set. Walk Score is a fantastic application!!!
I learned that entering the “plus four” digits of your zip code can shrink your map and drop the score. With nine digits in the zip, my home was at the edge of the map and score was 52. After removing the extra digits and retrying, home was centered and the score jumped to 77. Office (near Esther Short Park in Vancouver) rated an 85.
89 at home in Wicker Park, Chicago; 98 at work in the Loop. (I’ve plugged a few Manhattan addresses in, and they max out at 98 as well.) My first upgrade would be to consider the street network. If my circa-2000 PalmPilot’s Vindigo software could calculate walking distances over the grid, then it shouldn’t be that hard to program.A good bikeability map is a bit more complicated, since it involves adding data layers that aren’t already in GMaps. The routes I bike, even more so than the routes I walk, are often indirect and subject to more “quality of movement” factors. GoBikeBoulder includes off-street paths, signed on-street routes, and elevation in its calculations.One of CNU’s members, Eliot Allen from Criterion Planners in Portland, has developed some really fantastically complex software that models and analyzes walkability, bikeability, transit, and driving in the context of land use and urban design conditions, like street network, use balance, and intersection safety. I still don’t quite understand everything about it, but J,M, might want to give it a look.
Terrific tool. This will be very useful as a quick culling tool for transit analysis of potential station sites or bus stops. Metro developed something simular in Portland, OR called a walk isochron (distance walked in 10 minutes, 20 min, etc. aka “walk blobs”) based on sidewalk availability, slope, signalized intersections and street connectivity, and forecast land use and employment for a 3 mph typical walker. But the overlay of all the types of existing businesses is another component of it.As for accuracy – my single-family infill house in Seattle – N. Magnolia, rates a 66 while the Ballard condo we’ve been eyeing for when the kids leave rates a 94 – no wonder we want to move. If only the kids didn’t make so much noise and need a yard…
I am impressed that so many readers went to the site and quickly shared their results. The 1-100-range scoring is easy to relate to.I proposed a similar “theme mapping” to our city planners to healp location decision-making for individuals and businesses, but until Web-based mapping, it was not very feasible. Here is what I posted to the Pednet maillist:”My own address (in a walkable part of an older, downtown neighbourhood) scored a 69.Since Google maps sells point-and-click decals to businesses, the presence of these in your address’ vicinity seems to become the major factor in computing the score. Of course, the list of businesses and other ‘conveniences’ (like swimming pools, libraries, dance studios) is veryincomplete.It doesn’t say if the score is based on the “completeness” of the list of businesses in your area, but I found a serious coding error (an inn with the “movie theater” decal) and several businesses that have ‘expired.’Also, despite the importance of density and narrow streets, Google Maps doesn’t chart these, let alone the opinions of residents, shoppers,officials, experts (we have a university within 1 km—Google uses miles, not kms in Canada—ours with resident walkability expert, Dr. BarryWellar).Finally, I would think that the presence of good transit, plentiful bike racks, and shared cars (e.g., ZipCar) would increase an address’ score.It is an interesting start on getting people to tuning into what is becoming a very important factor in locating one’s residence.”Chris BradshawOttawa
Curious that I scored 88 when I buy virtually everything from shops three blocks away. Maybe because I have to walk uphill. Could be the rain is a factor. Beautiful side streets, lots of parks, a giant rainforest nearby with lovely trails, wonderful beaches a mile away—and remarkably few people out for walks. The car still rules.
What a cool tool! We’re a 78 out of 100 and I believe that is because not half of the businesses in my walkable area (within a mile) are “registered” somehow. There are many more restaurants, coffee shops, lots of yoga studios, places to get your hair cut, etc etc. We are actually “walkable” to THREE grocery stores, two are chains, one is a rather upscale new neighborhood store. Do the business owners have to post themselves on the web site somehow? Suggestion: what would be really great is to show whether/how major bus routes traverse the neighborhood (especially useful for house/apartment-hunters).
Looks like they updated the database and/or tweaked the site. My location in Vancouver, Canada, is now a 75.
Sadly, I don’t know my walk score because the site cannot find my home no matter how I type the address. Odd, because googlemaps can find it. I live just outside Portland, OR.
I love the Walk Score idea, and as a Realtor in Corvallis, Oregon I would be delighted to spread the word and encourage others in my area to use it. However, I found it disheartening that the information for my home address had so many inaccuracies. It skipped over the park one block away, and several others, to tell me that Central Park 2.12 miles away was the closest; it listed non-existent businesses, mis-named others, and included some home businesses that are not open to the public. It listed Your Green Home, a wonderful supplier of “green” home products, as a hardware store.If it was possible to edit the results, it would become more useful, but right now I don’t think it is reliable enough for anyone to base living decisions on. An interesting and useful novelty, though. I’ll keep an eye on it, and hope it gets better!
Sounds rather helpful especially if you are choosing the right place to buy a house. But 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. Thats why it would be useful to calculate not only your walk score but a drive score as well. Drive Score shows a map of what establishments are in a property’s neighborhood and calculates a Drive Score based on the number of places within a convenient driving distance. With Drive Score, buyers can see how close establishments are by car. You can use this tool and get further information at http://www.fizber.com/
Thanks for the article. That’s really cool.And thanks to newborn33_mail_ru for one more link. I’ve spent about an hour entering different home addresses and estimating their walkscore and Drivescore. And there’s bikescore there too 🙂