You Can Walk There
WalkScore.com is a new website that can help you answer the question "How walkable is your house?" We make all kinds of decisions when we pick a place to live. The usual list of questions for a new house or apartment center around closet space, number of bedrooms and baths, a garage or car port and a gas or electric range. One question that can get left out is, can you walk there?
The walk ability of a home significantly affects how you live and interact with your town or neighborhood. Being able to walk to buy groceries or stroll down to a park leads to more exercise, more casual chats with the neighbors and less time in the car, with less greenhouse gas pollution.
WalkScore.com measures distance to and number of Grocery Stores, Restaurants, Coffee Shops, Bars, Movie Theaters, Schools, Parks, Libraries, Bookstores, Fitness, Drug Stores, Hardware Stores, Clothing & Music stores. Enter an address and WalkScore.com uses Google Maps to generate a list and map of the neighborhood showing local stores, schools, libraries, etc. While it's not a perfect tool, WalkScore.com will quantify the differences between home locations when you are searching for a new place to live.
I decided to run a comparison of my current home in Santa Fe and where I used to live in Kansas City. My Santa Fe home is in a subdivision built in the early 1970's with small lot sizes and it scores a 62 out of 100 walk ability score. My home in Kansas City, was in a much older neighborhood built around 1900. While the neighborhood could have been kindly called "transitional" it scored 88 out of 100 for walk ability! Wow, I had nearly forgotten how often I would choose to walk from that house to the grocery store and neighborhood diner. I do love my home in New Mexico, but it would be more fair to call it a good bike-able location than walkable.
Check out WalkScore.com, then post your homes score and how well it reflects walk ability in your neighborhood.
CDC Study on Urban Sprawl and Public Health (.pdf download)