Good Walk Scores
Glenn at the Oil Drum recently found it too. So, he tested his home in NYC and then he tested Amory Lovins' home in Snowmass. Here is a piece of his post:
"Typically, when people think about how sustainable a neighborhood is, they probably think of neighborhoods with lots of organic stores, solar paneled roofs, small hybrid cars and a strong recycling/composting culture.
And all of those ideas have their place, but I would argue that the most important is how walkable/bikable a neighborhood is. From Streetsblog, we discover a new website, Walkscore gives us a chance to calculate this aspect of different neighborhoods. While this is admittedly a crude measure and has some fairly obvious flaws, it is in many ways a good rough measure of how walkable a given location is compared to others.
Just pure density does not a walkable neighborhood make. It requires a healthy mix of residential, retail, services and office space. It means basically being able to accomplish pretty much any of your necessary daily trips by foot and not requiring an automobile.
For instance Amory Lovins' Rocky Mountain Institute gets a fairly low score since pretty much anyone that works there or wants to get lunch off campus HAS to drive there. However, most of Manhattan gets a 90+. cllip
One key lesson from walkscore after taking a tour of various places that I have lived before is that while DENSITY is pretty important, ZONING is probably even more important. My childhood home in Staten Island, which was in residential only zoned area, received a score of 50, while similarly dense places I have lived in Ithaca received over 80.
Also, ultra-dense places like Manhattan have fairly similar scores to mixed use areas of the outerboroughs and even small town centers.
A low-cost, pro-small business initiative that would vastly improve the walkability of any neighborhood, would be to ban residential-only zoning and specifically encourage mixed use zoning everywhere, even in the heart of the most suburban sub-divisions.
Even if all plots at street intersections became eligible for commercial, retail or other uses, it would go a long way to producing more walkable communities.
Another lesson that I hope people have started to realize is that transportation is not just Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) and trying to figure out how to replace all of them with non-petroleum sources of energy.
People in walkable communities make just as many, if not more, trips in a given week and they travel much shorter distances. Transportation policy should be about providing people with access to the goods, services, workplaces that they need, not encouraging land use patterns that place all of these as far from each other as possible and desperately trying to link them all together with roads and highways that are costly to build and maintain."
I have spoken often about remaking our western car cities into a quilt of villages. And the suggestions here, although unsophisticated, are pretty realizable. By creating walkable and bikable environments, we can not only reduce our carbon footprint, we can reduce our waistlines, as well as our doctor bills.
And I still want to see the overall inner city connected with covered elevated walking, biking, and very light vehicle (VLV) path that allows you to blast from end of town to the other in a fraction of an hour, all the while viewing the hills and the creeks below. Since these skyways can be engineered to pedestrian standards, they would cost a fraction of our current automotive flyways, and they would be a unique urban amenity.
But good walk scores are not so good for big business.
And that ain't so bad.
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