I was poking around in Flickr (sorry, forgot to note whose profile I noticed it in) and discovered WalkScore, a website that assesses walkability of where you live. WalkScore uses Google Maps and generates a score based on what’s nearby.
- Current house in South Austin: 37 (A bit low IMO since there is an HEB just around the corner which could fulfill 75% of most people’s needs.)
- Last house in Podunk, FL: 6 (Admittedly a bit low too, with a grocery and a couple restaurants close. There are worse, not a lot, but worse.)
- House I grew up in, Rockledge, Florida: 54 ! (Big points it seems for a close hospital, high school, and churches.)
- First house in NW Austin: 35 (Hrm, compared with current house, more stuff but further off. Would have expected worse.)
- Second house in NW Austin: 60 (WTF? Must be big points for having a bar and gas station close by. It’s clear that there is no allowance for walking routes on busy roads with no shoulder/sidewalk.)
Update: According to the “How It Doesn’t Work” section, WalkScore only considers distances as the crow flies and does not understand pedestrian friendliness, bodies of water (and other impediments), and so forth. That’s too bad since it heavily skews the results. For example, our old house with the ’60’ score had no decent walkable destinations. There were plenty of closeby amenities, but driving was a necessity due to freeways and busy roads. OTOH, I walked to the grocery store, video store, and restaurants several times at week at the house with the ‘6’.
WalkScore is teaming up with Zillow and a number of realtors to promote their rankings. That’s great and I’m all for walkability, but I really do have some reservations about their rankings. I hope people are just using this as a starting point.