Scoring Your Walkability

For the third installment of his series on America's pedestrian problem, Tom Vanderbilt profiles Walk Score, the venerable walkability website and evaluation system.
April 14, 2012, 11am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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For his profile, Vanderbilt ventured to Walk Score's Seattle offices, which by the way earn a healthy, but not ideal, walk score of 80.

"Launched in 2007 as part of a series of 'civic software' initiatives, Walk Score instantly went viral, and quickly become an institution, particularly in the world of real estate. Walk Score numbers are found on every Zillow listing and on more than 10,000 realtor websites nationwide." In addition, its use has become widespread in the planning profession, where its results have become a handy metric for communicating with stakeholders.

For Vanderbilt, the most important success for the website is, "the idea that Walk Score has quantified walkability, taken an abstract quality-you know it when you see it, sort of-and turned it into something that can be measured against other addresses, other neighborhoods, even other cities (witness the New York versus San Francisco World Series of Walking). Walk Score gets people thinking concretely about walking."

"Urban planners have been talking about walkability for a long time, but it's hard to get people to pay attention," says Matt Lerner, Walk Score's CTO. "But because the scores are so personal, it's gotten people to pay attention."

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Published on Thursday, April 12, 2012 in Slate
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