New Urban News

Walk Score Could Lead To Better-Planned Transit Networks

As Walk Score’s calculations gain sophistication, planners in Phoenix are using the system to determine where to put light-rail stations.

When Walk Score was introduced in 2007, it was a sound system with a significant flaw: It measured distances as the crow flies rather than on a community’s network of streets and sidewalks.

But in recent months, the program’s Seattle-based developers, Front Seat, have been introducing a more refined version — “Street Smart” Walk Score — that significantly improves the walkability ratings’ accuracy. This “beta” version better tells you whether a particular location is within comfortable walking distance of shops, services, and amenities — from grocery stores and restaurants to schools and parks.

You enter an address into the computerized Walk Score system, and up comes a rating, anywhere from zero to 100. Ninety to 100 is considered a “walkers’ paradise,” presumably indicating that you wouldn’t need to own a car if you lived there. Seventy to 89 is considered “very walkable,” telling that residents probably don’t need a car. Conversely, a score below 50 means the community is car-dependent.

The Street Smart version also incorporates metrics that urban planners use to measure pedestrian-friendliness:
• Intersection density — the number of intersections per square mile. (The

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