walk score prevOur friends at Walk Score are out with a ranking of Seattle’s neighborhoods. It’s good stuff, and Jennifer Langston has a great article about it in the P-I. There’s also a nice segment on King 5 news and a good piece in the Times.

So which areas do best? Unsurprisingly, it’s the nexus of Pioneer Square, downtown, First Hill, Belltown, the International District, and South Lake Union. But there are a couple of surprises as well: How did Roosevelt end up in the #5 position? And why is Capitol Hill down there at #11?

Part of the answer has to do with how you define a neighborhood. For instance, Roosevelt proper is a relatively small area around the commercial center, while Capitol Hill includes a large swath of land, some of which is fairly low-density and residential. (Check out the “Walk Score Distribution” in the upper right hand corner for a graphic illustration of what’s going on.)

You could quibble, of course, about which places are most pleasant to walk—Capitol Hill is a gem on that score — but still, the proximity calculations that underlie Walk Score are a very good indication of where it’s possible to live a car-lite lifestyle. And nailing down some hard numbers and thoughtful methodology can go a long way toward illustrating comparisons—comparisons that are already beginning to inform real estate decisions and that may soon inform public policy.

Walk Score will soon produce similar rankings for the biggest 40 cities in the US. Stay tuned!