One of the best ways to stay in shape and give the planet a break from carbon emissions is by walking. In my old neighborhood, I walked and biked everywhere with my dog, since nearly everything was easily accessible, from the farmers' market to the public library to my favorite cafe. In my new neighborhood, there's a pretty major hill to contend with (actually the steepest street in the East Bay), as well as about a 3/4-mile walk each way to just get to the cafe or grocery store. I still do this walk about three or four times a week at least, but it's not really a neighborhood stroll — it's an expedition.
Curious about my new hood, I went to Walk Score, which calculates the walkability of an address, essentially measuring how easy it is to live without a car, or with minimal use of a car, in that particular neighborhood. My old neighborhood is the top map, while the new one is one the bottom. Just from looking at the map you can see that my old neighborhood has a lot more cafes, markets, libraries, gyms, etc., within walking distance.
To find out my neighborhoods' Walk Scores, as well as how this service works,
If you want to see how walkable your neighborhood is, just enter your address. Walk Score will then pull up a map of your neighborhood, identifying all of the neighborhood ameneties, and scoring your neighborhood between 0 and 100. Here's the interpretation for the score:
- 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 old neighborhood scored a 75, while my new one scored only a 46! I'd have to agree with Walk Score's assessment; even though I walk in my neighborhood a lot, lugging a backpack of groceries back up 3/4 a mile of a steeply pitched road isn't my idea of fun. Usually when I do this walk, it's just to pick up a DVD or grab an iced coffee.
How does your neighborhood score? Go find out!