walkscore

Street Smarts

The well-known tool for indexing walkability, WalkScore, is receiving a valuable overhaul.  WalkScore’s new project – the “street smart” WalkScore – will take into account actual travel distances along pedestrian networks rather than using “as-the-crow-flies” distances.  The discrepancy has been one of the most suggested improvements and issues users find with the current service. The distance simplification currently used by the service is efficient for calculations, however it could unintentionally send pedestrians walking across a highway or swimming across a river.  While a person may live a short distance from a popular and desirable destination, there may exist significant obstacles to walking to that destination.  Therefore, the calculator as it stands now overestimates walkability, potentially undermining the environmental, health, and financial benefits it purports to have as a goal by painting a rosier-than-reality picture for planners and policy-makers. Network distances aren’t the only upgrades the system will receive.  The new version will incorporate measures of intersection density, the link-to-node ratio (how many roads meet at an intersection), and block length – each indicators of pedestrian friendliness used by urban planners in practice.

These upgrades will improve the ability of urban planners to evaluate the existing conditions in their neighborhoods and provide examples of more walkable environments to which they can aspire.  Additionally, researchers studying walkability will have a new tool at their disposal.  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is funding the upgrade.

-Terra Curtis

Street Smarts

The well-known tool for indexing walkability, WalkScore, is receiving a valuable overhaul.  WalkScore’s new project – the “street smart” WalkScore – will take into account actual travel distances along pedestrian networks rather than using “as-the-crow-flies” distances.  The discrepancy has been one of the most suggested improvements and issues users find with the current service. The distance simplification currently used by the service is efficient for calculations, however it could unintentionally send pedestrians walking across a highway or swimming across a river.  While a person may live a short distance from a popular and desirable destination, there may exist significant obstacles to walking to that destination.  Therefore, the calculator as it stands now overestimates walkability, potentially undermining the environmental, health, and financial benefits it purports to have as a goal by painting a rosier-than-reality picture for planners and policy-makers. Network distances aren’t the only upgrades the system will receive.  The new version will incorporate measures of intersection density, the link-to-node ratio (how many roads meet at an intersection), and block length – each indicators of pedestrian friendliness used by urban planners in practice.

These upgrades will improve the ability of urban planners to evaluate the existing conditions in their neighborhoods and provide examples of more walkable environments to which they can aspire.  Additionally, researchers studying walkability will have a new tool at their disposal.  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is funding the upgrade.

-Terra Curtis

Abogo: Your Transportation Costs

Courtesy of CNTThe Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) recently released an online tool called Abogo that calculates transportation impacts for a given neighborhood or address.  CNT’s mission is to promote “the more effective use of existing resources and community assets to improve the health of natural systems and the wealth of people, today and in the future.” Abogo helps to achieve this mission by illustrating the impacts of transportation choices.  Additionally, it informs the public of the impact the physical environment affects the transportation choices available, and therefore impacts the affordability of a place.  It’s a clever tool that implies the real financial benefits of alternative modes of transportation.

As we’ve seen through tools like Walkscore and an associated study, people value a denser, more walkable environment.  Abogo will help to highlight the financial and environmental benefits of making sustainable residential and transportation decisions.  Spread the word!

-Terra Curtis

Abogo: Your Transportation Costs

Courtesy of CNTThe Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) recently released an online tool called Abogo that calculates transportation impacts for a given neighborhood or address.  CNT’s mission is to promote “the more effective use of existing resources and community assets to improve the health of natural systems and the wealth of people, today and in the future.” Abogo helps to achieve this mission by illustrating the impacts of transportation choices.  Additionally, it informs the public of the impact the physical environment affects the transportation choices available, and therefore impacts the affordability of a place.  It’s a clever tool that implies the real financial benefits of alternative modes of transportation.

As we’ve seen through tools like Walkscore and an associated study, people value a denser, more walkable environment.  Abogo will help to highlight the financial and environmental benefits of making sustainable residential and transportation decisions.  Spread the word!

-Terra Curtis

Walkscore

Walkscore is a web app that calculates a 0-100 score meant to demonstrate the walkability of a neighborhood. A community that scores between 90 and 100 is deemed a “Walker's Paradise”, scores ranging from 70-90 are very walkable, 50-70 are somewhat walkable, and scores below 50 indicate a car-dependent area. The app takes into account various criteria for calculating a score: centerpieces like parks or a main street, population density, mixed land uses, parks and public space, pedestrian-oriented urban design, schools and workplace distribution, and complete streets (designs for bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit).

Walkscore has not only been helpful for people trying to evaluate new living locations, but it has also opened up great transparency in the drivers of property value. One study done by CEOs for Cities, a group of urban redevelopment advocates, found that “in a typical market, an additional one point increase in Walk Score was associated with between a $500 and $3,000 increase in home values.”