Find a walkable place and live there!
What’s more important than low rent and ample closet space? Walkability.
In my last post, I highlighted the travails of a walking commuter, and this time, I’d like to direct all you walkers and wannabe walkers out there to a really cool site called Walk Score. With a tagline of “Find a Walkable Place to Live,” the site is designed to help you determine how pedestrian-friendly a particular area is.
I love this site, not only because it encourages us to walk instead of drive, but it proposes that we design our lives around using our car less and our feet more. Instead of throwing up our hands and saying, “Well, I live on a highway, so I have to drive,” we can utilize Walk Score to construct (or re-construct) our living situation and, in effect, our transportation habits.
How It Works
You enter an address, and the site uses a clever, patent-pending system of algorithms to calculate the location’s walkability. Your neighborhood gets a score on a scale of 1 to 100, with ratings ranging from “Walker’s Paradise” to “Car-dependent.” The site also gives a list of the nearest amenities—grocery stores, schools, restaurants, etc.—and their distance from your address. Nifty, eh?
The Niftiest Thing
I think the niftiest thing about Walk Score is that the site allows you to make walkability one of your criterion the next time you move—just like square footage or number of bathrooms. For instance, when I return from Italy, I’m tossing around Chicago and Portland, Oregon, as potential cities of residence. Fortunately for me, both cities are already on Walk Score’s list of the 10 most walkable neighborhoods in the country (place numbers four and 10, respectively). However, as I hone in on one city, I can compare walkability scores of potential houses or apartments and nix any sites that don’t measure up.
Did You Know?
You can access Walk Score from my list of “Car-free Resources” just to your right. I know, I know, the list is a little sparse. I’m working on tofu-ing it up in the coming weeks, a task for which I welcome your tips and suggestions!