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.

Philip Langdon, New Urban News
Issue Date:

Thu, 2011-09-01

Page Number:

1

 

When Walk Score was introduced in 2007, it was a promising system with a major 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, a company called Front Seat, has been introducing a more refined version — “Street Smart” Walk Score — that greatly improves the walkability ratings’ accuracy. This “beta” version does a better job of telling 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,” indicating that residents probably don’t need a car. 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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