American Madness

Intelligent Criticism in the Service of a Better Nation

What a Nice Walk

Posted by Matt Cipriano | 1 Comment

So, like many other sites, I learned today about Walk Score.

Walk Score is a sight that allows you to plug in your address (or any address for that matter) and figure out how walkable and interesting the area is. The idea behind Walk Score is to encourage folks to go walking, especially when there are other means of transportation available. Walk Score sites the benefits of walking as:

Better health: A study in Washington State found that the average resident of a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood weighs 7 pounds less than someone who lives in a sprawling neighborhood1. Residents of walkable neighborhoods drive less and suffer fewer car accidents, a leading cause of death between the ages of 15 – 45.

Reduction in greenhouse gas: Cars are a leading cause of global warming. Your feet are zero pollution transportation machines.

More transportation options: Compact neighborhoods tend to have higher population density, which leads to more public transportation options and bicycle infrastructure. Not only is taking the bus cheaper than driving, but riding a bus is ten times safer than driving a car2!

Increased social capital: Walking increases social capital by promoting face-to-face interaction with your neighbors. Studies have shown that for each 10 minutes a person spends in a daily car commute, time spent in community activities falls by 10 percent3.

Stronger local businesses: Dense, walkable neighborhoods provide local businesses with the foot traffic they need to thrive. It’s easier for pedestrians to shop at many stores on one trip, since they don’t need to drive between destinations.

We are here to show those guys that are inching their way on the freeways in their metal coffins that the human spirit is still alive.

- Patrick Swayze, Point Break

While it is still a new site and working out the kinks the explanation of how it works is pretty straight forward:

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

The information is all gathered from Google, so there are still some bugs (like the AMC/Loews Kips Bay movie theater listed as both AMC Kips Bay Theater and Loews Kips Bay Theater). Of course the information is also all estimated, there is no accounting for street size or crime rates or freways and highways.

If you are in a major city in a densely populated area, chances are you are going to have a pretty high Walkability score (Lower East Side got a 98, Kips Bay got a 91*), even if it is un-warrented- Roosevelt Island scores an 86- though if you want to get to the majority of the locations you better head into Manhattan or Queens.

*And there is nothing of actual interest around Kips Bay


One Response to “What a Nice Walk”

  1. Jerry (mouse)
    December 17th, 2007 @

    My walk score is 22… I was rather upset with it. And I was surprised to know that there is another score called drive scoreto evaluate my house. I found the way to calculate it online at Fizber site ( I’ve got much better results – 44.

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