Walk Score’s new food desert map is a potentially powerful tool in the ongoing policy debate about access to healthy foods. But it’s still a work in progress.
Bill Bradley points to a few of the current map’s weaknesses. First is the necessarily arbitrary definition of access. Walk Score chose to look at stores within a five-minute walk, when ten might have been just as appropriate. Then there’s the deeper relationship between car ownership and consumption patterns. Are residents in a car-centric city like Tucson likely to walk to a grocery store under any circumstances?
Bradley also questions Walk Score’s failure to sort legitimate grocery stores from bodegas less likely to stock healthy foods. “My biggest fear is that Walk Score has glossed over some important data here, and conflated convenience with actual access to healthy foods.”
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