If you’re moving into a new neighborhood, it’s usually easy to drive around (or walk around if the new neighborhood is a city) to find amenities and stores within walking distance. If you agree that walking is a necessary exercise, the ability to walk to destinations should be a large factor when deciding where to live.
Now you can find similar information with a handy web site called Walk Score. Type an address when prompted and Walk Score will provide a map containing local grocery stores, restaurants, schools, fitness centers, and more, including walking distance from the address. The web site uses an algorithm to develop a score, the “Walk Score,” for the neighborhood.
For example, here are the results for Princeton, NJ, not my neighborhood, but nearby.
The left column shows the closest location in each category, but is expandable to show all locations within walking distance. You can compare Walk Scores between neighborhoods to help determine an optimal place to live for your exercise needs.
As you can see above, Princeton, New Jersey has a Walk Score of 85. But what does that mean? The web site provides this guide to help you interpret the numbers:
90 – 100: Walkers’ Paradise. Most errands can be accomplished on foot and many people get by without owning a car.
70 – 90: Very Walkable. It’s possible to get by without owning a car.
50 – 70: Some Walkable Locations. Some stores and amenities are within walking distance, but many everyday trips still require a bike, public transportation, or car.
25 – 50: Not Walkable. Only a few destinations are within easy walking range. For most errands, driving or public transportation is a must.
0 – 25: Driving Only. Virtually no neighborhood destinations within walking range. You can walk from your house to your car!
My neighborhood’s Walk Score is 60, an accurate evaluation of my opportunities for ambulatory errand completion.
Walking should be a strong factor in your decision. According to the Walk Score website, walking increases your health, reduces greenhouse gas, increases your social capital, strengthens local businesses, and allows for more public transportation options.
I certainly don’t walk enough as I should. I have a grocery store practically across the street from where I live. Rather than making smaller shopping trips more often in order to walk, I usually wait and make large trips less often, requiring the use of my car to transport the bags of groceries required.
This is one habit I should change for my own benefit.
What is your neighborhood’s Walk Score?
Thanks to Julia_JJ for the tip.
Updated June 24, 2016 and originally published June 13, 2008.