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?