Walkable neighborhood is the widespread concept in planning that provides benefit to people, environment and the community. Walk Score is an online rating tool for neighborhoods. “Walk Score measures the number of typical consumer destinations within walking distance of a house, with scores ranging from 0 (car dependent) to 100 (most walkable). By the Walk Score measure, walkability is a direct function of how many destinations are located within a short distance (generally between one quarter mile and one mile of a home).” (Cortright Joe, 2009). In 2009, Joe Cortright, CEOs for Cities published a report exploring the direct relationship between the walkability and home values evaluated by the Walk Score algorithm. The report also reveals that walkability is a compelling factor that is directly related to the higher housing values practically in all metropolitan areas.
Mixed-use, walkable and transit oriented neighborhoods revitalize the urban centers. Sightline Institute released the walkability ranking for American cities in July 2011. New York, San Francisco and Boston grab the first three spot whereas Oklahoma, Charlotte and Jacksonville rank in the bottom three positions. Baltimore bears the 14th place with a walk score of 64. 38% of Baltimore residents have obtained a walk score of 70 and above. Federal Hill, Sharp-Leadenhall, Otterbein are listed as the Biltmore’s most walkable neighborhoods. Purnell, Wakefield, Dickeyville are nominated as least walkable neighborhoods. The research also indicates that 76% have acquired a walk score of at least 50 and 24% live in auto dependent neighborhoods.
Walk Score of Baltimore’s Neighborhoods, 2011
Walkability is a major element of New Urbanism, which also focuses on mixed-use and pedestrian friendly development. Research explicates that from 1977 to 1995, there is a decline (40%) of number of adults in the United States who walk every day. The research by Walking Site expounds that people tend to use cars to travel less than one mile. Issues on auto-oriented development, global warming and urban sprawl stirred the interest of walkability in United States. Established in 2007, walk score is available online in many real estate listing services. It measures the distance between the residential address and the nearby destinations like restaurants, grocery stores, shopping areas, schools, library, park, bookstore, fitness, hardware, movie theatres, bar and coffee shop. Walk score uses Google maps for this purpose of calculation.
Walk Scores of Top 10 U.S Cities, 2011
Any destination with in one-quarter mile or less from the residence receives maximum points. Destinations located more than a mile away from the residence receives zero points. The Walking the Walk report also unveiled that, “ In the typical market, an additional one point increase in Walk Score was associated with between a $500 and $3,000 increase in home values.” Walk Score website in recent times also calculates the “Smart Street” following the walking routes. It divulges the problems of poor street connections faced by the pedestrians.
All the studies and research report that walk score has unswerving and direct attachment with housing prices. But will it be considered significant by homebuyers even in this tumbling economy? What is the role of local government and planners in making the walk score more serious? Land use policies have down graded the walkability concept by separating different type of uses. Strict zoning codes and policies have lead to inadequate walk able neighborhoods in United States.
- Walking the Walk. How Walkability Raises Home Values in U.S. Cities. Cortright, Joe. CEOs for Cities, Aug 2009.
- http://www.walkscore.com/MD/Baltimore (accessed Nov 2011)
- http://www.thewalkingsite.com/faq.html (accessed Nov 2011)
- http://www.walkscore.com/ (accessed Nov 2011)
- How Stuffs Work. “What’s a Walk Score?” Trimarchi, Maria, 2011.
- Sightline Daily. “WalkScore’s New Rankings for Cities” Place, Eric, July 2011.