- No car necessary. (Photo: flickr/[benthomas])
Is your neighborhood a walker's paradise or entirely dependent on cars to get anywhere? Don't even worry about answering — an online tool lets you quantify just how pedestrian-friendly any given address is and seems especially worth considering in light of today's earlier post about the nearly 200,000 households in the D.C. area that don't have any personal cars. Walking — whether to work, for fresh groceries, a little culture, or a social life — is critical when you don't have a car.
WalkScore.com calculates an area's "walk score" by crunching the data regarding various area factors, including amenities like food, libraries, and grocery shopping in addition to public transit access, and grant each address a score of 0 to 100. The higher the score, the better. If the score is under 24, expect to do all your errands in an automobile, whereas blocks that score from 90 to 100 are designated a "walker's paradise."
The folks behind Walk Score also have ranked the walkability of America's major cities, and D.C. ranked 7 out of the 50 biggest with a relatively strong walk score of 73. The most walkable cities, according to the list, are New York, San Francisco, and Boston, respectively. Our neighbor city of Baltimore receives some credit at number 14, with a ranking of 63.9. What's really fascinating is how Walk Score provides a look into the different walk scores of the District's neighborhoods on an interactive map, which you can scroll through below.
Dupont Circle holds the crown for the most walkable neighborhood in Washington, D.C., according to their calculations. With a walk score of 98, it's nearly off the charts. Pedestrians there can easily stroll from Sweetgreen to Kramerbooks to the Dupont Metro station with no problem. Just pray you don't have to drive there during rush hour!
Many central District neighborhoods such as West End, Downtown, and Chinatown also rank high, with walkability scores up in the high 90s.
Lower-scoring neighborhoods tend to be either far from the center or across the Anacostia in southeast D.C. Fairfax Village only scores a 48, for instance, while Deanwood earns a 44 and Anacostia Naval Station a 40. Fort Totten isn't so hot to trot either at a subpar 51.
But forget looking at the city overall and neighborhoods. Try entering your own address and see exactly what it yields. That's where I had the most fun.
I entered my home address in Petworth and discovered I enjoy a "walker's paradise" rating of 91. Immediately listed before me are such local amenities as the nearby Qualia Coffee and Wendy's. Sure, I'll take it. There's also a transit score given, and my spot in Petworth scored what they call a "rider's paradise" ranking of 95. Okay, awesome.
The tool required a bit of testing, I thought. When I first moved to the East Coast, I spent a few months in Pentagon City, and before I knew it, my fingers were typing up that address. 85, the site announced, "very walkable." The assessment sounded right. The Arlington apartment was surrounded by malls and Starbucks, but I never would have needed a car to live there.
How would the tool handle other states? Let's try my family's home in St. Louis, Missouri. Aha! Now we finally had a slightly lower score. Sorry, Mom, but it looks like your little house only pulls in a score of 65 ("somewhat walkable") and a lousy transit score of 20. The Midwestern apartment I lived in during grad school fared rather better, at 89. I smiled as all the familiar nearby sites popped up, such as one of my favorite coffee shops located just 0.02 miles away from the apartment's front door. The town's average was only 51 though. I wanted to enter every address kicking around in my brain, whether past or present, home or office.
Enter your own locations and see what you think. Between the maps and the amenity tracking, Walk Score pulled me right in.