Tuesday, September 4

Finding a Walkable Neighbohood

The web site Walk Score offers a great resource for selecting walkable neighborhoods to live in. They tap into the Google maps engine to find the proximity of various activities - the nearest grocery store, coffee shop, park, school - to your house. It then calculates a score, based on how accessible these places may be by foot. The creators admit to several imperfections in simply plugging a bunch of distances into a formula, but it is certainly a good starting point.

Here's how they define a walkable neighborhood,

A center: Walkable neighborhoods have a discernable center, whether it's a shopping district, a main street, or a public space.
Density: The neighborhood is dense enough for local businesses to flourish and for public transportation to be cost effective.
Mixed income, mixed use: Housing is provided for everyone who works in the neighborhood: young and old, singles and families, rich and poor. Businesses and residences are located near each other.
Parks and public space: There are plenty of public places to gather and play.
Accessibility: The neighborhood is accessible to everyone and has wheelchair access, plenty of benches with shade, sidewalks on all streets, etc.
Well connected, speed controlled streets: Streets form a connected grid that improves traffic by providing many routes to any destination. Streets are narrow to control speed, and shaded by trees to protect pedestrians.
Pedestrian-centric design: Buildings are placed close to the street to cater to foot traffic, with parking lots relegated to the back.
Close schools and workplaces: Schools and workplaces are close enough that most residents can walk from their homes.

The Lower Rattlesnake, where we live, scores a 71 out of 100. Since it doesn't take into account a major highway running through the neighborhood, the score may be artificially inflated. Still, looking at the map, we really do take advantage of many of these assets right around the corner. I do think this may impact any moving decisions.

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