The good folks at Walk Score have been doing everyone a real service by analyzing neighborhoods on the basis of walkability. They have on a simple and cool concept: you type in an address and it analyzes that place based on what is close enough to get to by an easy walk (restaurants, stores, coffee shops, banks, etc . . .) and it also generates a “Walk Score” (for example, CLF’s office in Boston gets a 95 out of 100 which falls into the “Walker’s Paradise” zone) and a Transit ScoreTM that rates accessibility and availability of trains and buses (CLF in Boston, in the heart of the city, gets a perfect score of 100 or “Riders Paradise” because of the 75 nearby transit routes).
At the bottom of the main Walk Score page you will notice a button that allows you to check an address against their new beta “Street Smart” Walk Score. You can get to that directly through a blog post explaining and previewing this new mechanism.
Such tools are not perfect of course. Anyone who has had to endure a delay ridden ride on the MBTA (the essential and beleaguered transit system serving Boston) might spit out their coffee at the suggestion they are in a “Rider’s Paradise” for example. However, tools like this illustrate how real neighborhoods offer us, and our families, neighbors and work colleagues a chance to engage in so many of the opportunities to engage in the activities of daily life without driving.
Perhaps it is obvious – but it bears repeating – walkable communities provide us a chance to meet our neighbors and avoid burning gasoline and putting pollution (including greenhouse gases causing global warming) into the atmosphere. And in dense communities where things are close together when we do drive, we drive less, preserving so many of these benefits. Building such communities and the transit that supports them, is I note with pride, the mission of CLF’s Healthy Communities and Environmental Justice program and of course you can read all about it in the blog posts about the work in that program.