A recent Wall Street Journal blog post refers to a website called Walk Score. Walk Score will let you know the walkability of a neighborhood based on the address you type in. The site also features ranking of cities and neighborhoods.
Here are the city rankings:
1. San Francisco, CA
2. New York, NY
3. Boston, MA
4. Chicago, IL
5. Philadelphia, PA
6. Seattle, WA
7. Washington D.C.
8. Long Beach, CA
9. Los Angeles, CA
I assume San Francisco beat New York, because New York City includes the less walkable areas such as Staten Island. I can brag that I have lived in 3 of the top 4 most walkable cities: New York, Chicago, and Boston. (although I actually lived right accross the river in Cambridge, which I think still counts) I was also pleasantly surprised at how many of Milwaukee’s neighborhoods ranked above 90.
How It Works
Walk Score helps people find walkable places to live. Walk Score calculates the walkability of an address by locating nearby stores, restaurants, schools, parks, etc. Walk Score measures how easy it is to live a car-lite lifestyle—not how pretty the area is for walking.
What does my score mean?
Your Walk Score is a number between 0 and 100. Here are general guidelines for interpreting your score:
90–100 = Walkers’ Paradise: Most errands can be accomplished on foot and many people get by without owning a car.
70–89 = Very Walkable: It’s possible to get by without owning a car.
50–69 = Somewhat Walkable: Some stores and amenities are within walking distance, but many everyday trips still require a bike, public transportation, or car.
25–49 = Car-Dependent: Only a few destinations are within easy walking range. For most errands, driving or public transportation is a must.
0–24 = Car-Dependent (Driving Only): Virtually no neighborhood destinations within walking range. You can walk from your house to your car!
The Walk Score™ Algorithm
Walk Score uses a patent-pending system to measure the walkability of an address. The Walk Score algorithm awards points based on the distance to the closest amenity in each category. If the closest amenity in a category is within .25 miles (or .4 km), we assign the maximum number of points. The number of points declines as the distance approaches 1 mile (or 1.6 km)—no points are awarded for amenities further than 1 mile. Each category is weighted equally and the points are summed and normalized to yield a score from 0–100. The number of nearby amenities is the leading predictor of whether people walk.
Your Walk Score may change as our data sources are updated or as we improve our algorithm.
How It Doesn’t Work: Known Issues with Walk Score
We’ll be the first to admit that Walk Score is just an approximation of walkability. There are a number of factors that contribute to walkability that are not part of our algorithm:
Public transit: Good public transit is important for walkable neighborhoods.
Street width and block length: Narrow streets slow down traffic. Short blocks provide more routes to the same destination and make it easier to take a direct route.
Street design: Sidewalks and safe crossings are essential to walkability. Appropriate automobile speeds, trees, and other features also help.
Safety from crime and crashes: How much crime is in the neighborhood? How many traffic accidents are there? Are streets well-lit?
Pedestrian-friendly community design: Are buildings close to the sidewalk with parking in back? Are destinations clustered together?
Topography: Hills can make walking difficult, especially if you’re carrying groceries.
Freeways and bodies of water: Freeways can divide neighborhoods. Swimming is harder than walking.
Weather: In some places it’s just too hot or cold to walk regularly.
As MarlonBain said, “You should use the Web 3.0 app called going outside and investigating the world for yourself” before deciding whether a neighborhood is walkable! And if you can’t go there in person, Walk Score includes Google Street View so you can use your own eyes to evaluate the walkability factors that our algorithm doesn’t yet include.
All of the amenities shown on Walk Score come directly from the Google Local Search API. Unfortunately, some listings may be missing or out of date. Business owners can go here to update their listings. Google recently enabled an “Add a place to the map” feature on maps.google.com and we are working with Google to integrate this directly into Walk Score. Unfortunately, there is currently no way to remove a place from the map (e.g. a grocery store that is no longer open).
This sight is a lot of fun. I definitely recomend playing around at Walk Score.
[Tip of the hat to Hyde Park Urbanist]