Friday, August 3, 2007

Stepping Back Into the Walkability Discussion

A post on mileage in my Prius earlier this year sparked a discussion about the relative walkability or non-walkability of our lives. I was just thinking about that when I wrote my latest mileage report a few days ago.

I had a sense of irony, therefore, when I saw a link this morning to a web site called Walk Score which asks "How walkable is your house?" The site uses Google maps and geospatial data on the locations of things you might need to get to to determine how close things like schools, grocery stores, restaurants and other destinations are to your house and to determine the extent to which you could get by without a car.

Not too surprisingly, even though I live within the City of Lewes, the score for my house is a lowly 34 out of 100. That's in what Walk Score calls the "Not Walkable" range; "Only a few destinations are within easy walking range. For most errands, driving or public transportation is a must."

Downtown Lewes itself is a fairly walkable place, but we are on the outskirts. Of course, I do want to point out that there are schools, a grocery store, doctors, restaurants and the library all within half a mile of my home.

The site is pretty open about what its limitations are. It is not set up to include in its measurement my commute, which is longer than it should be. On the other hand, I do make my drive to and from Dover in a very clean car.

My work location is more walkable, scoring an 84 out of 100. I'm lucky enough to work in the historic center of Dover and can do almost all errands, once I'm there, on foot.

Today, for example, I held a walking meeting with a colleague, on our way to a downtown restaurant, then walked over to DNREC to confer with a few of the IT folks there before walking back to my office to end the meeting. Very pleasant.

So. How walkable are your life's locations?


Matt M. #29 said...

Um. Is 25 bad? I would brag about the 95 score I have at the office, except I have to drive 9 miles to get there.

It was interesting to note that I live less than 3 tenths of a mile from the American College of Gastroenterology (I think it's in that big, lonely office building on Goldsboro Road). Google called it a school and it probably saved me from a sub-20 walkability score. But that 3 tenths of a mile is through some pretty dense woods and over a muddy, storm-drain fed stream. And I hope I never have occasion to have to visit good old Gastroenterolgy U. anyway.

HD BizBlog said...

Hey Mike, cool blog. Have you seen this column from Orson Scott Card (yes, that one):
We no longer live in cities. We don't live in towns. We don't live in the country, either. We don't live anywhere at all. Just island neighborhoods in splendid isolation, with roads so convoluted that half our driving is just to get out of the island and onto a road that goes somewhere.

You want to take a walk? No sidewalks in most places, and nowhere to walk to. You just walk around looking at other people's yards and houses. The only people you see are the other walkers -- or the yard guys working on other people's lawns and shrubs.

It's a great column, and I couldn't agree more. Keep up the good work.

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