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Posted by on Aug 24, 2009 in General | 16 comments

“Walkable Neighborhoods”

Saw this on CNN.com the yesterday.  Interesting to note,  CommuteOrlando.com  and our fellow bike blogs  has mentioned www.walkscore.com on a couple of times.

Even though walkscore is not perfect, the research that is gained from using the site can help those choose a new home or neighborhood.  Or at best, learn about shops and businesses in your area that you didn’t realize existed.

If the area you live in or choose to live in has a good walkability score, then imagine what a bikeability score would be.  Personally, all my shopping and personal business can be handled within a 4 mile radius from my residence by bike.  Fun stuff!

16 Comments

  1. I hadn’t done a walk score since I moved here, so I just did. It’s 71%

    That’s based on proximity (most things are ~.5 mile walk). It doesn’t look like they include infrastructure in their algorithm.

    While I find the proximity to most things a perfect walking distance, the infrastructure is lacking. There are no sidewalks on Lawton, Woodcock or Executive Center Dr. There is no marked crosswalk to cross Maguire. When you do cross to go to the mall, you have to walk across the landscaping or on the street to get to the sidewalk. This kind of deficiency in the built environment sends a message. Not to mention, it’s a barrier to folks in wheelchairs.

    It’s much easier go by bike because it’s compatible with vehicle-centric infrastructure.

  2. My score: 18

    However, within TWO miles is pretty much anything I might need from Brazilian Steak Place to Bolts for the bike. SIX places to buy groceries within that distance. As in Keri’s case, where things suffer are in the details. That and my Nemesis Road.

  3. My score: 97

    Very interesting! I like the concept. It was very entertaining to look at all the things in my neighbourhood, including ones that I would never use.

    The site missed several locations, ranging from my favourite restaurant to (rather important!) the local hospital. I am seriously disturbed at the anti-religious bias shown by ZERO churches or the local mosque showing up.

    I note that the commercial chain establishments are all there. And the site has advertising and is flogging its services to real estate agencies. This arouses a certain suspicion about the impartiality of the service provided.

  4. Daytona Beach, score 31, but I don’t walk much.

    I don’t think a bike-ability score program would be easy to implement, as there would be too much bias toward bike lanes and bike paths, in my opinion. Make it vehicularly cycling based and everything is available.

  5. Where I am is rated 71. I would consider my bike-ability score much higher. As stated above access is a problem even if your not handicapped. In some places, you take your life in your hands to be on foot. Odd, I feel safer on a bike…

  6. Ha! It gave me a big fat zero. I wonder if it just because of the distance (2.71 mi shortest) or lack of sidewalks? (Smirk!)

    It is 6.5 mi to town and I do not consider that an unreasonable round trip on a bicycle. I will often go out of my way simply to add miles. (And entertain dogs.)

    Walking is overrated!

  7. WalkScore does not address the existence or lack of sidewalks. It’s a mash-up of Google’s maps and their mapping of commercial and civic destinations. It is solely based on proximity to destinations. It may also miss some pedestrian-only connectors that reduce walk distances compared to following the regular street network. (Though it may include some shared use paths.)

    Lack of sidewalks and longer distances to destinations tend to correlate fairly well.

  8. For your amusement, here’s an intersection that has always puzzled me:

    Canterclub Tr & Wekiva Springs

    There is a crosswalk and a pedestrian signal to cross the minor residential streets on both sides of Wekiva Springs Road. There is NO crosswalk or ped signal to cross Wekiva Springs!

    This is part of a regular route I use to Apopka. I noticed it because I’ve had trouble triggering the loop detector on Bent Oak Dr. That light doesn’t change unless it’s activated.

  9. Mighk said:
    “It is solely based on proximity to destinations.”

    So it doesn’t take safety into account, either. Not just safety from cars, but from people a pedestrian might encounter.

    In the ’60′s, I lived for a couple of years in a city that was very walkable. In fact, the city school district didn’t own any school buses because they weren’t needed. Many people walked to work if they worked in the same city. Plenty of parks, but you almost never saw anybody in them. A “new urbanist’s” dream. It was absolutely possible to live work and play in that city.

    That city has lost almost 50% of it’s population since 1950. So what went wrong? Lot’s of things, mostly related to economics.

    It became dangerous to walk. The whole city was in the process of becoming a big “bad neighborhood.” My 7-year-old brother got beat up by a 17-year-old high-school dropout when he refused to give up his milk money (3 cents).

    As much as I hated moving to Florida, I sure didn’t mind leaving that place.

  10. Keri — your link goes to the wrong intersection, but I found the one you meant.

    I’m betting the thinking is that these are school crossings, and that the kids don’t cross Wekiva Springs Rd. on their ways to and from school. And since only children walk in Central Florida…

  11. Correction: the kids cross a little farther north at another signal directly in front of the school. Still, only kids walk in C.F. (sung to the tune of “Walkin’ in L.A.”).

  12. How bizarre… serves me right for not testing it. I fixed the link in my previous comment. It now goes to the right place.

    Yeah, I suspected it had something to do with kids. Otherwise, it’s a completely nonsensical walk signal. There’s no button, it just corresponds to the traffic light. Adults wouldn’t need a walk signal to tell them when it’s safe to cross a residential street.

  13. WalkScore is greatly misleading. According to their tally, I have over 60 stores, restaurants, and shops within 0.3 miles (true!) and thus a very high score. Trouble is a highway in between (currently being expanded) requires a one-way walk of 1.6 miles to these same destinations and requires traveling on a street with 7 lanes of heavy traffic. In addition, the expanded highway has eliminated previous pedestrian paths and the one and only pedestrian bridge has been permanently removed in order to make larger ramps to facilitate more traffic.

  14. John,

    You should write up a history of how your DOT has systematically destroyed options for alternative transportation. Get it published. Shame them.

  15. I’m a 72 – Very Walkable. After being off the radar for awhile, my little neighborhood is starting to see some positive changes, particularly along the commercial corridor of South Orange Avenue.

    While there are limitations on the walk score tool, it’s quite handy. More detailed analysis is possible with GIS where you can include barriers and lack of infrastructure to get a better picture. It’s a start at least and it’s free.

    One nice thing about Orlando is that it’s surrounded by very nice neighborhoods. There are 22,000 people living within 1 mile of downtown. This is better than many other metro areas across the US, particularly in the sunbelt.

  16. Not surprised that the pre-WWII areas of cities (downtowns and core neighborhoods laid out on a grid pattern) fare much better than post-WWII areas with residential roads that all snake around into cul-de-sacs with a big, commercial arterial road as the only option.

    Walkscore is far from perfect, though. Like john points out a major flaw is that due to a large concentration of businesses, a series of strip-malls can “trick” Walkscore. Even if it did consider bike infrastructure (Bikescore anyone?), there are plenty of things that would go overlooked. It wouldn’t take into account how Sprawl Rd here requires you to first ride your bike across a large highway interchange if you’re coming from the west and all those tons of curb cuts for drive-thrus. But hey, they added sidewalks and bike lanes so the city is calling this a “complete street” (you can take a peek below). I dunno, but I don’t think having to walk across a 7 lane-wide road just to go to the other side is very “walkable”. Yet according to Walkscore this stretch of road is green/”very walkable”.

    http://pubserv.ci.columbus.oh.us/transportation/Document_Library/PROJECTS/Morse_Road_Phase_2.pdf