A report released last Wednesday reports that the Big Apple is the "most walkable" city in the United States. In fact, many of its residents are able to forgo owning a car or can leave their cars behind when accessing neighborhood amenities such as grocery stores or coffee shops.
This is according to Walk Score, a website that assesses a location’s proximity to amenities including grocery stores, restaurants, schools and parks, grading the address’ walkability on a scale of one to 100.
On the WalkScore.com site, you can plug in addresses to find nearby amenities and determine the length of their commutes, by car, bike or foot. Many of you may know that I live in a rural area on a farm - 15 miles from a loaf of bread! I typed in my address - it scored zero and said "car dependent"! AMEN to that! I typed in my office in Bossier City, Louisiana, and it said "Very Walkable" - a 72. But I'm thinking getting across 4 lanes of traffic on Airline Drive might be a little hairy! Then I put in my office in Leesville, Louisiana, it scored "Somewhat Walkable" - a 68. Of course, neither of these were residences - but I wanted to check it out!
So, my thinking is that this could possibly be a marketing tool for real-estate agents looking for a way to "sell" their property's walkability to prospective home buyers. With volatile gas prices as they are, buyers may count the savings of a high walkability neighborhood in determining their purchase, and consider that having shorter commutes will also cost them less.
“An American family living in a house that is accessible only by car is spending on average 25% of their income on cars,” said Christopher B. Leinberger, visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, in the Walk Score news release. “Households in walkable communities spend less than half that amount, putting more money in their pockets.”
To calculate the most walkable cities in the country, researchers graded the 50 largest U.S. cities block by block; scores were weighted by population density. Following New York City, which had a Walk Score of 85.3, the other most walkable large cities are:
San Francisco, 84.9
Washington, D.C., 73.2
Matt Lerner, Walk Score’s chief technology officer said that many of the cities that made the top 10 list had some things in common. For one, they were cities that grew up before World War II, before it was common for people to own cars. And another, there’s a mixture of dense population and a variety of amenities to walk to.
It’s important to note that some neighborhoods in walkable cities are more accommodating to pedestrians than others, and even cities that rank low have walkable neighborhoods within them, Lerner said.
“Regardless of the location of a property, people still want to know where the closest grocery store is,” said Josh Herst, the company’s chief executive, and for many, “it matters a lot what their commute will be like.”
Check out your properties....what's the WALKABILITY score? And do you think it matters?