How Walkable is Your Neighborhood?

by Katy on January 12, 2010 · 38 comments

The following is a reprint of a previously published column. Enjoy!

With all the attention on hybrid cars, cycling and public transportation these days, it’s easy to ignore the most obvious transportation option:


It’s highly fuel efficient, (just add cookies) and is accessible to most everyone.

I just found a cool website called, Walkscore that will calculate a 0-100 score of how walkable your United States/Canada neighborhood is. (Sorry, foreign Non-Consumers.)

The website describes itself as such:

“Walk Score helps people find walkable places to live. Walk Score calculates the walkability of an address by locating nearby stores, restaurants, schools, parks, etc. Walk Score measures how easy it is to live a car-lite lifestyle.”

Okay. I live in an enviably walkable neighborhood. I’m but a scant few blocks from a school, the library, a park, grocery stores, coffee shops, art supplies, a UPS store, a gym, restaurants, plus much, much more. Really, I could become a relative hermit without difficulty. I’m feeling confident and smug.

So I punch in my address and get a score of “80?” Jeepers — what does a girl have to do to get a higher score? Last time I checked, that’s a B-! Actually, it turns out that an “80” puts my house in a “very walkable” category. I can live with that.

Update: My “walkscore” is now 86, although I’m not sure what changed.

After I had inserted my info, a map popped up of my neighborhood with tiny icons for the different businesses, schools, parks, etc. Many were consumer rated, which was pretty interesting to read. There was a small amount of outdated info, but mostly it was up to date.

A friend tells me that real estate agents are starting to use this site to engage potential buyers. And that, fellow Non-Consumers is a positive. This means that the green lifestyle of alternative transportation is no longer considered weird.

Because we all need to be getting out of our cars and onto our own two feet.

What’s your score? Can you beat me?

Let me know in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

foo January 13, 2010 at 12:18 am

Unfortunately Walkscore doesn’t take into account many geographical issues. There’s a GINORMOUS ravine next to my house, which has no crossing points and one needs to walk 7+ miles north or 9 miles south to get around it …. but Walkscore says that the stores/school on the other side of the ravine are directly walkable from my house in a straight line and only a quarter mile away by foot. Um, NO. And it happens over and over in my area with Walkscore. So beware, use resulta with a grain (or 7 miles of) salt.

Otherwise, I like using it to see what it thinks about potential neighborhoods. Just check a topo or street map afterwards!


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl January 13, 2010 at 2:29 am

My neighborhood is not at all walkable. In fact, the only thing I could walk to safely is a liquor store. Ahem. Not exactly where we’ll be taking a family outing.

My area is really just not walking friendly, though….most homes are in places where you need to drive to get anywhere.

However, I do live within very close driving distance of most things I need, so it’s not like I use tons of gas.


Carla January 13, 2010 at 6:17 am

I don’t think Walkscore will even be able to find our little lake subdivision but I can tell you without trying it that it is NOT walkable. Not out here in the country and not in the small town where we used to live. You can walk in our subdivision purely for exercise or to get to a neighbor’s house. There is a gas station/convenience store about 2 miles from us. Once we leave the subdivision we would walk on a narrow 2-lane highway with no shoulder and the cars whizzing past at 55 MPH. In town you could conceivably live near the library and a small, expensive grocery store as well as some other shops, but to get to the larger grocery stores you would have to cross major highways. — Nope. Not walkable much of anywhere.


Alicia January 13, 2010 at 7:04 am

I was sure it would score higher, but my neighborhood got a 68. This is sad to me, because I think I could walk to just about anything I’d want: libraries, daycares, schools, doctors and dentists, a hospital, restaurants, bars, churches, grocery stores, clothing stores, two or three parks, a walking trail. These things are all within 1.5 miles. Plus we have a bus stop about two minutes walk away that goes right downtown (the only thing my ‘hood doesn’t really have is office buildings). We walk to most places on the weekend — our except is the grocery store, but that’s mainly just because I’m afraid the bags will be too heavy, not because it’s too far away. My city’s highest score was 88, so maybe that means that 68 is an ok score?


Kat January 13, 2010 at 7:45 am

74 “very walkable” and according to the little statistics beneath the map only 7% of Oklahoma City residents have a higher walkscore.
I still ride my bike to a majority of the places listed just because some of the neighborhoods south of me aren’t as safe as mine.


cindy January 13, 2010 at 8:15 am

I got a 40 – Car-dependent !! Although that doesn’t come as a surprise, the only place we can really walk to is the 7-11 that is 6 blocks away. My old neighborhood that we just moved out of 4 months ago has a score of 54-Somewhat Walkable – but not really, cause you had to cross a major highway to get places and no sidewalks going up the main road. Once it gets warmer, we’ll be able to ride our bikes to places where we live now.


cindy January 13, 2010 at 8:18 am

oh! I just tried my work address – 97!!! And I never knew there was a grocery store down the street, I’ll have to check that out today, thanks for the heads-up on Walkscore! I work in a downtown city area, where starbucks is on every corner 🙂 Too bad I don’t drink coffee!


chppie January 13, 2010 at 8:37 am

I’m with the less urban group. Last time I checked I was around 25. And some of those places are what I consider an unsafe walk – no shoulder, high speeds, a bit curvy. I love the idea of walk score but wish businesses would use it to see what some of us small town/out of town people need. I’d love to walk more. As it is I group my errands so that when I go into town I at least make best use of my gas and time.

It is an interesting feature for discovering new businesses.


Andrea January 13, 2010 at 8:39 am

I scored a big fat ZERO! Once in a while we walk to the kids’ daycare (.5 miles away–before they started preschool); we could walk to the general store (1.5 miles) if we needed Twinkies, bad pizza or archery supplies, or the honey farm (1.5 miles in the other direction, if we need honey). Once I rode my bike to work (13.5 miles) and nearly died.


Sierra Black January 13, 2010 at 8:46 am

I got an 86 too. We are one block from a metro bus stop, our neighborhood school, a couple of banks, a large primary care clinic, a dentists office, a chirpractor, several cafes and restaurants and a bike shop.

We’re a 15 minute walk from a city sq with restaurants, a theater, several more banks and doctor’s offices and the post office, a public library, a couple of bookstores and thrift shops and clothing stores, a supermarket.

In short, I never need walk more than 15 minutes for any good or service I want. Also, my husband works four blocks away and most of our friends live in this neighborhood.

86? I don’t think so.


Meg January 13, 2010 at 9:05 am

Mine’s 46 — and I thought we were doing good because we could at least walk to the bank and one of our grocery stores!

But then, that is great compared to 12 for my mom’s house where I grew up. And that should be lower. I see that they think there is a JCPenney’s less than 3 miles away. It’s about a half hour drive away in a whole other town, so that’s an obvious error. And a couple of the businesses listed as within walking distance are 10+ miles away and there’s no sidewalks or back roads to walk on getting there — just a 4 lane highway that I wouldn’t consider safe to walk along.

But then I always knew there wasn’t much around my home growing up. I remember when we got our first fast food restaurant! They still only have one grocery store and one pharmacy. And the joy of living in a small, conservative town is that everyone knows everything. If you’re a minor, rest assured that your parents will find out if you buy condoms and don’t count on getting emergency contraception at any age. No wonder so many of my high school friends ended up with kids.


Shannon January 13, 2010 at 9:17 am

Mine’s a 28, but the good thing is the walkscore website called my attention to a little market area that I never really paid much attention to, but would be able to easily walk to! The good thing is we live in a smarter suburb that at least has sidewalks, plus the local community around us is adding sidewalks on the busy roads too. Additionally we are walking distance from the elementary school and a nice park. I used to live in a neighborhood that has an 86 score, and I do miss it.


Ashley January 13, 2010 at 9:35 am

My score is a 22! I have to say though that it should be a little higher because they left out one grocery store less than a mile from here, a park, and 3 restaurants, one of which is a national chain. I am a little confused why it listed the mall that is 7.26 miles away on a fairly busy highway… a 10-15 minute drive with a Goodwill across the street (not listed)!


Allison January 13, 2010 at 9:40 am

I’m a 100- walker’s paradise! I’m not surprised as I don’t own a car and can walk to 2 grocery stores, a movie theater, library, post office, many restaurants and coffee shops, and the subway and bus stop across the street. Out of curiosity, I mapped everywhere I lived and the lowest score was an 89. I can’t imagine living anywhere without easy walking access. My parents’ house scored a 14, which I totally understand, as it drives me nuts not to be able to walk anywhere when I visit. I finally bought a bike so I feel less house-bound there without having to get in the car.


Lisa January 13, 2010 at 9:56 am

There were a few discrepancies in their map, but my walkscore was 49. That’s funny because we’ve often walked to all the marked places without thinking twice about it.


melissa January 13, 2010 at 9:59 am

my neighborhood is pretty walkable- but SO much was missing on the data from the map. I walk a lot of places, particularly to my son’s school, a large public school that wasn’t listed at all. Nor was my favorite coffee shop, my mechanic’s, several good lunch spots, shops, yoga studio, zoo, museum, a college (two, actually!) blah, blah. I got a 43. But as a whole, the rest of my city (memphis) isn’t so walkable. My section, Midtown, is. Mostly.


HeatherS January 13, 2010 at 10:27 am

My small town scored a 77 but I would personally score it lower than that. Yes, you can walk to many places from my house like the library and our school but it lists our grocery stores and restaurants as walkable but I would never do it. Almost all our stores and restaurants are on one road and that road is very busy with no sidewalks. I have seen people walk there but I would never do it, esp. with children.


Stacey January 13, 2010 at 11:04 am

I love the walk score site! My neighborhood is a 92! It says I live in a “walkers’ paradise”! Really, you can’t beat NW Portland for walkability – my husband and I never use our car except on Sundays to drive 10 miles to church.


Clare January 13, 2010 at 11:13 am

I think walkscore needs to work on its algorithm/s. My address received a score of 60 but our neighbors directly across the street (so close that I can look into their windows and see their dogs) received a 68.


Linda January 13, 2010 at 12:19 pm

My score is a 9! I figured it would be bad. I think my area is a much better biking area. I see alot of bike riders on my road. I am thinking about getting out my bike and using it around my area. Great rural landscape and some areas not too far away.

I have to look at it a the glass half full! I love where I like but there is a drawback to a rural location.


Melissa January 13, 2010 at 1:22 pm

I got an 80, but with the new Whole Foods now open, I think that might up it a bit. Now I can get to a bank, ice cream shop, library, school, gym, Trader Joe’s, discount groceries, dollar store, a few restaurants, MAX line, bus stops, coffee shops, farmer’s market (in summer), and bulk/organic food in just minutes. I’m seriously lucky.


Kimberly in So Cal January 13, 2010 at 3:24 pm

I have an 83; it would be higher if the local transit agencies supported open data. Also, nowhere did it show that I am 1/3 mile from the post office, nor does it take into other important destinations such as farmer’s markets. Actually, a lot of the data is old and I think my city/town is more walkable now than it was when I moved here 18 years ago.


Donna Korzun January 13, 2010 at 3:29 pm

My town received a 74. Interesting since I can walk to any of the schools, library, hospital, loads of restaurants, college to name a few, within 5-25 minutes. All are easy walks. Crime is pretty much non-existent. I am not quite sure how the calculations are figured, but considering all the amenities that I can access, I think I can get to pretty much anywhere I want to go. I say no matter what the score, my neighborhood is very walkable.


Lori January 13, 2010 at 3:47 pm

I got 91! Though I think I must practically be your neighbor in fabulous SE Portland 🙂 We are in a great area to get to so much with such ease.


Charlotte January 13, 2010 at 4:41 pm

My address scored a 46, and yet we live without a car. (And walk. A lot.) The web site is really quite picky about distances. If I virtually move half a mile, the score goes up to 92. So, it’s all a question of what distances you’re willing to walk.


Dawn January 13, 2010 at 5:31 pm

UGH! My score is a 46! I do walk a lot, but I would love to live in a more walkable area.


Karen January 13, 2010 at 6:09 pm

My score is 57…somewhat walkable. Like others, I did notice that only certain businesses are listed. Walkscore also links to a lot of real estate data/ads, so it’s likely that only the businesses that are supporting the website are listed. That must be why the area Goodwill is not mentioned. So use it with a grain of salt. Funny too that walkscore gave our house a 57, but the real estate ad on the same page gives me a 60, so scores must be flexible ; ) Our usual walking destinations, a restaurant and a Walgreen’s, are not listed.


Kris-ND January 13, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Ready for this? My score was 0 out of 100 lol I live 17 miles outside of town, so no, no public transportation or walking, or biking getting around town.

Now, if the question was how healthy are your surroundings, how clean, water/air quality, crime rate, access to public recreation land, etc, it would be 100 out of 100 😉


Jess January 13, 2010 at 8:36 pm

0 out of 100 here as well; not surprised I would never consider walking anywhere. I need to walk one mile just to get to get toa road that leads to any road to a store, library, etc. What a neat site though!


Alea January 13, 2010 at 8:48 pm

I received a score of 3 out of 100. I live in the country and it is a trade off. I grow a lot of my own fruits and veggies, and swap the excess with friends for eggs and milk, so I am less dependent on stores.


namastemama January 13, 2010 at 8:50 pm

3! and I don’t know where they got that. I guess cause you can walk the other streets in our neighboorhood. If you live in a rural area you will get a low score. Although we lived in a tiny town in Iowa that built a triple wide sidewalk next to the state hwy so you could walk anywhere! It was awesome and I was skinny 🙂


Bea January 13, 2010 at 8:53 pm

No problem, N-CA. I live in Queens, NY and scored a tidy 98%. What would score a 0 around here is drivability! (And park-ability.)


Jean January 14, 2010 at 8:35 am

Now here’s something silly. I live 2 blocks from Katy, and I got a 92. Weird.


Sarah January 14, 2010 at 9:38 am

Hmmm. My current address got a 64 and my old one an 85. But I find my current address much more walkable for my family, because while we do have to ride our bikes a mile to the grocery store, the kids’ school, the library, my work, Grandma and Grandpa’s house, many, many restaurants, the pool where the kids take lessons in the summer, the farmers’ market, and locally owned stores are all within 1/2 mile of where we live. Not to mention fewer busy streets to cross than the old house to get to these places. And one thing this limited tool can’t measure is the number of kids running around the neighborhood wanting to play with other kids, something I haven’t seen much since I was a kid. I’ll take my 64 neighborhood over the 85 neighborhood any day.


Deb January 14, 2010 at 10:59 am

58 out of 100, but considering I live in Maine, that’s not too bad. I know that from my house I can walk to my office (1 mile) in about 20 minutes, and it takes more than 10 to drive there due to traffic and lights. I have a few diners and restaurants, convenience stores, bottle redemption, laundry & drycleaners, a gas station, an art gallery– 2 I think, an elementary school, a business college and a private university, doctors offices, a hospital, 2 libraries, 2 small parks and 1 large, a small outdoor cultural area, and more all within less than 2 miles. I have to travel about 3 mile to Goodwill, and the vet is about 5 or 6 miles away. Our public transport isn’t the best, even though where I live is considered a city in Maine, but is really like a large town for most other states. Of course, in the winter it’s not always the best to be walking everywhere. Ice and snow abound and make it a bit treacherous at times, and the cold sometimes will make ice on your eyelashes, but I like to walk. Now that I look at this & list these things out I realize I could probably live without a car, unless I want to visit family or friends (makes me wish the public transport was better). Pretty cool to be able to check this out online though.


Karen Pancoast January 14, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Boo Hoo, I’m only a 52. But I like my neighborhood just fine anyway.


Tina January 16, 2010 at 4:18 pm

cool!!! thanks for this info!


Robbie Kay January 21, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Our condo scored an 80, however, I would not say it’s a particularly walkable area as it’s near a transit center and whenever I’ve tried to walk more than a few blocks I’ve wanted to run back inside because of all the fuel fumes. Now, the fact that it’s near a transit center means that a car isn’t really necessary, but I wouldn’t consider walking to be a pleasant option.


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