How Walkable is Your Neighborhood?
We Americans love our cars, which has created a few problems: we are dependent on gas and oil and another result is that we’ve become an overweight society. Two months ago, Japan took their obesity fears to the extreme by instituting a national law in which companies and local governments must now measure the waistlines of Japanese people between the ages of 40 and 74 as part of their annual checkups. Not that the U.S. has to go to that extreme, but there are things we can do to fight obesity and battle rising gas prices. Such as walk.
How walkable is your neighborhood? Walk Score, a Web site that has been out for awhile, just updated its site by using Zillow’s neighborhood boundaries. Walk Score’s mission is to measure the walkability of a neighborhood. Just enter your home’s address in the search field, hit “Go,” and an algorithm goes to work, adding up points for your home’s proximity to stores, restaurants, schools, parks, etc. Seattle gets a 72 (out of 100) in walkability and my home gets a 78 out of 100, which sounds about right since one of my criteria in buying a home was to make sure it was near my daughter’s school, park, and stores. (What a quaint idea — walking your kid to school!) There are many Americans that don’t have a chance in getting high walkable scores since they live in suburbia or rural locations. For example, President Bush’s Crawford Ranch gets a big, fat zero in walkability, but his White House address is highly walkable, scoring 91.
If you are interested in integrating Zillow’s neighborhood boundary files (available via a Creative Commons license), here are a couple other examples of live implementations to give you some ideas. It’s pretty easy… it’s like, walking.