Via The Salt-Box and Digital Digs, here’s Walk Score a cool little Google mashup that calculates the walkability of your place of residence “by locating nearby stores, restaurants, schools, parks, etc.” I scored a 25, not very walkable, which was better than Alex and slightly worse than JBJ, but like JBJ, I’m not sure my score matches my experiences.
In my case, I think the 25 is actually too high. I walk as much as possible, but as I mentioned in my comment at The Salt-Box, while there are a few businesses nearby, there are no sidewalks, and cars routinely go 55-60 mph on the highway in front of my complex. If I wanted to go to a business across the street, I’d feel like I was taking my life in my hands. And the “grocery store” they list as closest to my apartment is actually a convenience store, which would be fine if I ate nothing but snack food and liked lousy beer. They also lump clothing and music stores together, with the closest listed store being a Payless Shoe Store I’ve never noticed before. Not that it doesn’t exist; there are so many signs in Fayetteville that they sort of blur together in a single, somewhat shabby blur of advertising and visual noise.
That being said, it’s a cool tool for mapping the livability of a given location is pretty cool. If I had used this tool when planning my move to Fayetteville, I probably would have made more of an effort to find someplace here that’s even a little more walkable.
Side note: my apartment in Hyattsville, MD, scores a 55, which seems a bit low, especially given the access to public transportation that I had. My apartment in Decatur, GA scores a 52, which sounds about right, but also shows the limits of the tool. I happily went without a car during my year in DC, but that would have been practically impossible where I lived in Atlanta.
Another update: My apartment in Champaign, IL, scored a 95, which seems reasonable enough. I could have easily lived there without a car, and more or less did (my car was about twenty years old), except for the fact that most of the chain movie theaters were about seven or eight miles away.