Measuring Walkability with Walk Score

I’m pretty bearish on so-called ‘neighborhood’ sites right now. Relying on user generated content to provide information on local areas seems to me to be a tenuous proposition at best. This is particular evident at some of the higher-profile sites; the ghost town that is StreetAdvisor, Yourstreet folding up shop (see Yourstreet is Now Empty) – though they, at least, promise to relaunch in a different form.

One neighborhood site that I’ve found particularly useful however is rather beautiful in its simplicity. Walk Score is a mashup that calculates how pedestrian friendly your neighborhood is by asking the question; “How Walkable is your House?”

Punch in your street address and the site maps a series of local landmarks it has pulled from Google Base; grocery stores, restaurants, coffee shops etc. – all relative to your location. Walk Score was refreshingly accurate in my neighborhood at least.

So, how does it work?

Walk Score™ uses a patent-pending algorithm to calculate the walkability of an address based on:

  • The distance to walkable locations near an address.
  • Calculating a score for each of these locations.
  • Combining these scores into one easy to read Walk Score.

Brilliant. Walkability, at least for me, is huge criteria that goes into finding a new home. My current house scored a meager 62 out of 100, unfortunately. Better than Bill Gates however, whose house scored a microscopic 5 on the scale or George W. Bush’s Crawford, Texas ranch which got the big old Goose Egg.

I’d love to see this kind of integration into a broker or real estate search site. Very valuable information, beautifully executed.

Walk Score was created by the Sightline Institute, Cascadia’s (self-proclaimed) sustainability think tank. (For more on Cascadia, read this).