What’s Your Walk Score?

Here’s a website worth checking out if you own a good pair of shoes and don’t mind using them once in a while. It’s called Walk Score and it gauges the pedestrian-friendliness of locations.

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Type in any address or pair of cross streets in the U.S. (or Europe for that matter), and the site maps the area and plots the nearby recreational, commercial, cultural, and social amenities. Even better, for the quantitatively inclined, it assigns each location a walk score on a 0 to 100 scale.

The site doesn’t take weather, safety, topography (e.g. hills), or the characteristics of the street network into account. (To their credit, the site’s creators cheerfully admit to these shortcomings.) But in all, the walk scores are pretty much what you’d intuitively expect, providing a degree of confidence the site is getting it right. Here’s a sampling:

Barack Obama‘s current residence (Washington, D.C.) — 97
George Bush‘s current secondary residence (Crawford, Tex.) — 0
Bill Gates‘s house (Medina, Wash.) — 11
Stone Pony rock club (Asbury Park, N.J.) — 75
Graceland (Memphis, Tenn.) — 42
Neverland Ranch (Los Olivos, CA) — 0
“Friends” apartment building (West Village, Manhattan, New York City) — 98
Brad Pitt & Jennifer Anniston’s former home (Beverly Hills, Calif.) — 28
Penny Lane (Liverpool, U.K.) — 71
3 Abbey Road (St. John’s Wood, London, U.K.) — 73
Boardwalk & St. James Place (Atlantic City, N.J.) — 89
Dubner‘s place (Manhattan, New York City) — 91
Levitt‘s office at the University of Chicago (Hyde Park, Chicago) — 86
My abode in Los Angeles (Sherman Oaks, Calif.) — 97

Which brings us to the promised bonus myth. As you’ll note, my location demonstrates that there is indeed such a thing as a walkable neighborhood in Los Angeles. In fact, Walk Score ranks Los Angeles as the ninth most pedestrian-friendly city out of the largest 40 cities. More on the city rankings and what they say about the state of American urbanization next post.

So one more stereotype about Los Angeles bites the dust. And before I get off this topic (I promise), let’s dispense with one final myth, namely that Los Angeles is lacking in sophisticated and cultured people. For your information, my image consultant is a Harvard psychology grad, my personal trainer has patented a revolutionary new ab cruncher, and my yogi has attained the Twelfth Circle of Enlightenment.

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  1. Bjørn Smestad says:

    I added my address in Oslo, Norway. Score: 6 out of 100. The data it depended on was totally wrong. For instance, it claims there are 8.35 km to the nearest coffee shop, forgetting one less than 1 km away. Nearest library: 7 km (in reality: about 2 km). And so on.

    It’s a cool concept, but clearly only works if Google Maps (on which it depends) includes the relevant points of interest.

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  2. Joe Pseudonym says:

    Interestingly enough, by entering the street address, I get a score of 98, whereas entering the two cross-streets on which I live gets a 91.

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  3. shawdc says:

    got a 98/100 (Washington DC along the NW/NE border). Pretty accurate, but fails to account for the fact that some streets are more like highways, complete with overhead signage. Also, kind of a tough neighborhood, and you don’t really want to be walking around at night unless you are looking to score drugs.

    Does ability to buy drugs factor in to their score? probably not, but I bet some neighborhoods would jump through the roof if they did.

    97-100, stoner’s paradise haha.

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  4. kbr says:

    got a 100 for my neighborhood! a walker’s paradise according to walk score!

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  5. luke says:

    This walk score thing can also be potentially nonsense. I tried compared the place I used to live in Toronto, within walking distance of a lot of stuff (including two shopping malls), and had a fairly low WalkScore, and many businesses which I knew where there (having walked past them in person) simply were not recognised. I then tried my parent’s home in small-town maine and had a higher walk score, where not only are there actually fewer places to head to, many are inaccessable. I’m not talking about inconvenient hills, i mean highways and, get this, rivers.

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  6. Cory says:

    This thing is WAY off. It lists a paint production plant as a “hardware store,” a convenience store as a grocery store, and “Erotic Pleasures Adult Mart” as a clothing store (and, for that matter, as a book store).

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  7. Mike B says:

    You can’t say LA is pedestrian friendly by simply quoting a single high score from where you happen to live and once again while LA is rated as the 9th most walkable city, the City of LA proper is a surprisingly small part of what the lay person would consider LA. The rankings should be composed of the entire metro area.

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  8. notmelbrooks says:

    i got a relatively high walk score. i have no sidewalks.

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