Apr 2, 2009

Walk This

Courtesy of Ian David Moss, I just discovered Walk Score, which rates relative walkability-vs.-car dependence on a citywide as well as a neighborhood level. It's imperfect, but nevertheless fascinating, since I recently figured out I've lived 11 separate places in my life.

The walkability trend for me has mostly been on the upswing, though my childhood home, in a solidly middle-class Scottsdale neighborhood, gets a 55 score ("somewhat walkable"), while the slightly more upscale Phoenix address I grew up in from sixth grade through high school, where my dad still lives, gets a measly 37 ("car dependent"). My L.A. address scores may be a little misleading, because my longtime neighborhood of Echo Park, which gets a handy 58 score, actually had fewer amenities nearby when I lived there throughout the '90s, while the last place I lived in L.A., in Los Feliz, has a surprising score of 82. I mean, I know I walked a lot when I lived there--I literally spent whole days without recourse to a car--but I thought that's just because I was a cash-poor, home-based freelancer. My current Greenpoint, Brooklyn address only fares a bit better, with a score of 86, while my current midtown workplace gets 100, and this highlights another flaw in Walk Score's admittedly flawed methodology: which neighborhoods are more pleasant to walk in.

Actually, Walk Score's list of Top 10 most walkable cities is an eye opener:
1. San Francisco
2. New York
3. Boston
4. Chicago
5. Philadelphia
6. Seattle
7. Washington, D.C.
8. Long Beach, Calif.
9. Los Angeles
10. Portland

L.A. beats Portland? News to me!

(Photo by Jean-François Lanzarone)

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