More about walkability

Now that's my kind of sidewalk. There's even a bench.Last week I posted a link to walkscore.com, a website that calculates the walkability of a given address based on the number of stores and other amenities within–you guessed it!–walking distance. It’s a cool site (and probably accurate in most cases), but I’m hoping it will eventually evolve to something a bit more sophisticated. The thing is, walkability is about a lot more than how many stores are in your neighborhood. For me, it’s about the safety, convenience, and general pleasantness of actually getting to them.

My house, for instance, scored an 86. I’d give it about a 75. (Note that Bus Nerd would strongly disagree with me on this. He thinks walking around here is perfectly fine.) Much as I love being so close to a library, two community centers, two parks, lots of schools, and six bus routes(!), I do not love the narrow sidewalks, speeding cars, and pedestrian-unfriendly street crossings. There are several stores nearby, but they are almost all in strip malls, and to actually get to any of them, you have to cross huge parking lots (full of speeding cars).

Not that any of that stops me. I love walking. I walk to church, to the grocery store, to the beauty shop, to the coffee shop, to the park, to the pool, to the video store, to the drug store, and–at least a couple of times a month–all the way downtown. Truth be told, I prefer walking to riding the bus. If the weather was always nice and I had all the time in the world, I’d walk everywhere I needed to go–well, within five or so miles. (Once, I talked Bus Nerd into walking all the way to Pier 55 to catch the Water Taxi, and then from Seacrest Park, where the Water Taxi dropped us off, all the way to the end of Alki to meet my brother for lunch. Oh yeah, and then back.)

But enough about me already. What do you think makes a neighborhood walkable?

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