Walkscore: Now With Added Features & Analysis

A couple of years ago, I wrote about Walkscore as a handy tool to estimate the walkability of a specific address anywhere in the US. There are a few limitations to the tool, but by and large it hits the mark in determining which areas have the potential to be great walkable communities where you don't need to own a car versus totally auto-dependent areas.

Now they have added a whole lot of new features, analysis and commentary to the site and it's worth a look.

You might want to start by running your address and a few prior addresses or addresses of friends and relatives to get a taste of what makes a community walkable. The basic idea from Walkscore is that you are within a mile or less of basic necessities like grocery store, schools, hospitals, employment, post office, etc. While it helps, population density is not necessarily the best predictor of walkability, but rather the mixing of uses (residential, commercial, retail, public spaces, etc). For instance a suburban single use residential area by actually have quite a few people per square mile if they are filled with 4-5 people per house, but they are still completely dependent on automobiles to get around because of the single use zoning. However, just because you live in a single detached house with a yard in a low density area doesn't mean that you can't live without a car if you have a retail street around the corner.

For more on what factors contribute to a walkable community, take a look at Walkscore's handy checklist.

Here's some of the new features:

1. Place Finder: Find all the walkable places around the country with the new Census Viewer. All the little dots are places that are walkable. Notice all the interesting patterns, especially how towns and villages seem evenly spaced out and form lines along rivers, old rail lines or roads. Note the ring around Yellowstone. Note the east to west lines in Nebraska & Kansas.

2. Community/Neighborhood rankings: Find the top walkable neighborhoods around the country. While standout cities like New York, San Fran and Boston have a lot of representation, I had no idea Kansas City's Old Westport would clock in at #10.

3. Walkscore Blog: They had a lot of good recent post including the video up at the beginning of this post and links to other cool features like heat maps of walk scores in different areas.

4. Real Estate Services: If you are looking for real estate or trying to sell real estate, Walkscore has different web features to add the Walkscore API to any listing automatically, which Zillow and other real estate websites now use.

Enjoy Walkscore - maybe you can use it to find a cool neighborhood to live, work or play.

So this is where my GIS students end up finding work...

This whole thing borders on ridiculous, and the post smacks of an advertisment. All the walkscore folks have done is build a bunch of buffers on a *very* incomplete set of features data (incomplete in the sense that they miss megasupermarkets AND in the sense that they miss the farmers markets as well), added the ability to locate your address, and added a bunch of advertisements to their website.

On the bright side... in the 'grocery store' heading I found a purveyor of which I was not aware...


Their motto from their website: "You drink it, we drive it"

Point made?

If not, I see that "Seattle Caviar" and "EvZE World Gourmet" are also within walking distance and listed as grocery stores.

I can assure you that "Seattle Caviar" is not a grocery store, and that it does not sell *local* caviar. I think the *world* gourmet store speaks for itself.

Walkability is important. Very important. But any walkability index which includes Seattle Caviar and World Gourmet but does not include my local farmers market is pretty much worthless in the post-peak world which we are probably already living in.

I won't disagree that it has some items that don't make sense or are mislabeled. And I'm not sure why they don't have greenmarkets. But do you think there are a lot of false positives - addresses or communities that get a high walkscore but are not very walkable?

This is not a "green index", it's just about mixed use zoning vs. single use residental and to a lesser extent density vs. suburban sprawl

I live in Hollywood Florida a few blocks from some very nice restaurants and outdoor cafes. The site lists a KFC as a restaurant within walkable distance. Fortunately I have no idea where it is nor do I intend to try to find out. I can get *REAL* food of excellent quality , of various ethnic origins at very reasonable prices in the restaurants that are well within walking distance from my home.

The site gave me a rating of 89 which is just a hair shy of their walker's paradise rating.

I'd give my location a rating of 99 as I'm just 2 miles from a farmers market on a beautiful tropical beach. Even in my current decrepit physical condition and advanced age I'm still quite able to walk there and back. ;-)

""I can get *REAL* food of excellent quality , of various ethnic origins at very reasonable prices in the restaurants that are well within walking distance from my home.""

Whooo boy, another wealthy, elitist white guy, slamming the working class?

Yeah, we need more just like you.....

You don't know me, my status, my ethnicity, where I came from, where I've been or what I do but what I do know about you is that you apparently are the equivalent of a human torus!

But I will say this, if just because someone chooses not to eat at KFC when they can get say a falafel with humus pita bread and a tabuli salad at a little middle eastern restaurant for less than what you would spend at KFC for a bucket of fried industrial grade chicken and carbonated sugar water and if you consider that to be elitist and by implication that implies slamming the working class...

You are not only fractally wrong you are a pathetic excuse for a human being as well and you are not worth my time to even compare you to a bucket of lukewarm loose stool!

Wooo boy, mr elitist white guy. Pop a pill and calm down. Musta hit close to home there, HUH? No need for the racist undertones.

KFC is "REAL" food for millions of people each day. No need to try to talk down to the "REAL" people in the world. You choose not to eat there, so what. Food is food, all goes in the same way, all comes out the same way.

"Ironically, actual research into the genetic modification of poultry could turn out to be quite beneficial to consumers. Experimenters are currently seeking ways to breed animals more resistant to parasites and diseases, for example. Not all scientists are mad, nor every experiment tinkering the "building blocks of life" destined to produce monsters.

Meanwhile, KFC stands falsely accused of engineering mutant creatures for profit and finds itself in the queer position of having to reassure the public that its products are safe to consume. "After all, we buy our chickens from the very same sources that ordinary consumers do," notes spokesman Tierney. "We just buy a lot more of them."

Your little ethnic, middle eastern falafel joint serves the same bird. But more likely, to cut costs, it buys an even less quality chicken and has very little quality control in what gets put on your plate. Enjoy.

Wooo boy, mr elitist white guy. Pop a pill and calm down. Musta hit close to home there, HUH? No need for the racist undertones.

WTF?! Who the hell is being racist here? Where in my comment did I in any way allude to any racial characteristics of any human being?

Only a complete F'n moron would be incapable of understanding that calling someone an elitist WHITE guy is just as racist as using any other racist slur. What part of double standard are you incapable of parsing.

Furthermore to make such a remark based on someone's critical assessment of the lack of nutritional value in a typical fast food restaurant's,fare(whether such assessment is correct or not),is beyond any pale.

This is my last response to you on this or any other subject, ever.

Hi Glenn,

What might be interesting is an overall comparison between US and Europe. I've lived in various locations in the UK and travelled widely in Europe and reckon that >95% of neighbourhoods are walkable.

Quantifying the obvious difference with the US would highlight respective vulnerabilities to PO. And perhaps put some numbers to the fuel savings that could be gained from a change in US infrastructure - currently US oil consumption/capita is I believe, almost 2X European.

The PTB always like numbers!


Personal note: I live in Europe (London) and would not consider a neighbourhood as a neighbourhood if it where NOT walkable. It's not very neighbourly to have to get in your car to go see neighbours or even shop is it?

In Putney at the last count we had something between 40 to 50 pubs, bars and restaurants to choose from all well within a mile/20mins. We have 2 large supermarket outlets aong with various smaller 'metro' style outlets, I can't remember the last time I used the car to go shopping. We have corner shops galore. We have French and UK farmers markets weekly. If the car dissapeared tomorrow I could still get to work by train, my other half has not used a car for 5 years.

I'm not sure I could live in a place where you HAD to get in a car to do the above, how would I manage the sense of isolation from a 'community' of people?


Not quite that many facilities in my village. But 3 food shops in 10 minutes walk range. To be honest half the time I drive it is because the roads are too dangerous to cycle (with my five year old children) due to all the other people driving. Sad.

...how would I manage the sense of isolation from a 'community' of people?

Good question, prozac maybe? paxil? ambien? lexapro? wellbutrin? xanax? ...now you're getting it...


Speaking of Putney, Papa Ciccia the Italian restaurant on Lower Richmond road after having gone a bit down hill is now under new management (ate there last night) and is back to its old self. Also on Lower Richmond road Mezza the Lebanese restaurant is also worth a try if you haven’t had the opportunity to do so already.


Well, they only rated my place a "car-dependent" 29, even though I walk to work. My daily commute is 1.7 miles, and there's the problem: they set an arbitrary cutoff of one mile. One mile is nothing; it takes me one mile just to really get limbered up and up to speed. I consider my town to be a walkable community, but just about all of the amenities that are listed on WalkScore are between 1 and 2 miles from my home. I guess that for people that can't be bothered to get out of the car at all - people who will circle around parking lots for ten minutes to wait for a parking spot close to a front door to open up - a one mile walk (which implies a two mile round trip) would seem to be a daunting prospect. That IS going to change, though, whether people like it or not. We're all going to have to get used to getting around on foot again a lot more, just like we used to. It really is better for us, people were thinner and healthier when they had to get around more on foot. I know my health has improved since I started commuting on foot.

IMHO, distance can't be the only criteria of "walkability". The safety of the route also has to be considered. I actually would prefer walking twice as far on a truly safe route than I would walking the shorter distance on a dangerous route. You can live 0.1 miles from a whole bunch of amenities, but if there is an 8-lane highway with no pedestrian crossing between you and them, then that isn't "walkable".

In my small town, quite a few things are a little farther than one mile from my home, but I can safely walk to all of them. There are more densely-settled communities where things are closer together, but in all too many of those appropriate attention has not been given to pedestrian safety.

The walkable principle is seen from the prespective of the "consumer". What about the community of the "producer", the food producer for instance? Where is going to come the food (and every thing else) to maintain those who live in the walkable city community? Most of the "communities" that actually produce great part of the food that´s delivered in the cities comes from places that, according to the classification we could get from the mentioned site, would get a very low walkable classification. What kind of life have the people who live in the food producing community and what kind of life will they live in the future?
It´s important to remember that we can´t solve problems with the same type of thinking that created them (although we try to analyze them) and we have to be very careful with this type of analisys that uses the old paradigm in future new situations.

I like walkscore, though I'd be the first to admit it has many shortcomings. We found it very useful when looking for a place for my mother to live once she gave up driving. She couldn't make the decision based on walkscore alone, but it was a useful additional data point. It also creates awareness that is very lacking in American decision making about where to live. So, it's value is as much that it attempts to quantify something as the actual outputs of that quantification.

If I recall correctly, the one-mile radius was set because that was a reasonable distance for a person to carry (or pull/push with a cart, etc.) groceries for a household. Random, yes, but still useful. I walk the two-miles to our local grocery store or pharmacy, but not if I have to carry two gallons of milk.

We had a local "pedestrian friendly" movement start a few years ago by politicians prior to election time (I live in Virginia inside the beltway). This translated into funding overpriced brick sidewalks and crosswalks and a few WALK/DON'T WALK signs where none had been before. Helpful, but hardly a serious commitment, and the money would have been better spent on building new sidewalks where there are none rather than tearing out perfectly good concrete sidewalks and putting the brick ones in. What we really needed was an aggressive eminent domain statute to connect the culs-de-sac (cul-de-sacs?) with pedestrian easements that run between houses. Of course, nobody wants it running by their own houses . . . .

Google is really good at stuff like this, and I'd like to see them more aggressively pursue walking maps. One thing I'd like to see the Google Maps walking option include is cutting through parks. I can see the parks on the map, but Google will not let me walk through them. The same goes for pedestrian easements. Walkscore is road based, but imagine what it could do if, for example, it could include all the stairways in Pittsburgh. . . .

I like walkscore, though I'd be the first to admit it has many shortcomings. We found it very useful when looking for a place for my mother to live once she gave up driving. She couldn't make the decision based on walkscore alone, but it was a useful additional data point. It also creates awareness that is very lacking in American decision making about where to live. So, it's value is as much that it attempts to quantify something as the actual outputs of that quantification.

I agree with this... Like most quantitative tools it cannot capture, or capture adequately, qualitative data such as safety of route, quality of nearby restaurants, etc. But it can get a person started in thinking through the walkability of a residential location.

Our score is only a 54, yet functionally our location is more walkable than the score would indicate. It's very safe walking, not crowded, pleasant, with two large parks in the neighborhood, and a Sundance movie theatre the tool missed entirely. Plus, it's right on a bus line. At numerous points along various routes, I can catch a bus if the walk or weather gets to be too much. My husband walks to work in good weather - just under two miles.


I got a suburban 45 (I figure that's decent)while the big city averages 70 and a walker's paradise is +90. With high rises, the sidewalks can get very crowded and frankly UNPLEASANT if you have to walk. How crowded would it be if everyone had to walk? You can't carry anything. I suppose you could widen the side walk by turning street parking into a bigger side walk but would that be better? What about surges?

A good topic but needs much more depth IMO.

Of course it needs more depth, there is a lot of information that is simply not coded for computer understanding. Specialty food stores, as the example provided above, getting marked as grocery stores is a challenge that will be difficult to solve correctly without human input.

However, don't think that a walkscore of 100 means that you can't be in a single family home with a small yard. My example. There is room for a detached two car garage and garden beds in addition to the house. Land use could be much better planned, but it certainly isn't overly dense at 100.

The only time the sidewalks are crowded on the main streets is when there is a parade or street festival. No skyscrapers around here. Zoningwas changed recently to allow some 75ft tall buildings nearer the train station (commuter rail). Not that there will be the demand for that build out anytime soon.

Even the google data is bad as the house numbering on my street is off by a block. Now thanks to Walkscore and Zillow you all have access to way more information about me than you'd ever want to know. Thank goodness its accuracy is suspect. :)

Its still far from a useful tool to me.
It missed my Library, police station, city hall, post office, grocery store, bar, diner, Drs office, Nursery, parks and recreation facilities. Some of these have been added in recent years and others are old. It put businesses on the map at distant locations that are not really retail locations (but perhaps where the owner lives?).

Scores top marks for the idea, but totally useless in terms of real practical value unless they find a way to make it accurate.

I consider my home to be quite walkable from a suburban Atlanta neighborhood perspective. We also own an electric golf cart and the city has an ordinance to allow golf carts on city streets (with speeds limited to 35 mph or less). There are several paths that are "golf cart only" to connect areas of our small city.

Well. My street, in Berlin only gets 48 out of 100. So not very walkable according to the web site. Course I haven't used a car in 16 months, so, they need to do some updating of information.

Plus they are missing bus, s-bahn and u-bahn stations.

Surely what counts more than anything is the presence of a walking (cum biking) culture.

Coupled with public transport. Where I live, walking is common but is dependent on a good public transport system. Not on what store you can reach on foot in under a mile - in cities there will always be some, even many, of these.

That can't really be measured, I realise the index isn't up to it.

But one should focus on public policy rather than private choice or convenience.

Would be nice if it was accurate. My walkscore was 83 as the map showed dozens of places within one-half mile-- BUT THEY ARE NOT! For example, both a grocery store-restaurant are listed as 0.16 mile away. In fact the real distance is 1.8 miles one way. A highway exists in between without a pedestrian bridge, my roundtrip is 3.6 miles while a crow only has to travel 0.16 Maybe Walkscore is for the birds?

Hmmm. I scored a 6 out of 100. There's a bus stop within 50 feet of my house which shuttles every hour to Kailua and the entire length of Kailua/Lanikai beaches. Of course, the bus could go away once the fiscal crunch hits, which is ironic since it's usually running empty now. Still, a place that's an 8-minute busride from a walkable town doesn't seem too cursed.

Not very impressive, honestly. It gave my location a 12, which is bizarre as while far from a walker's paradise there is a shopping centre with all the necessities half a mile away. What I don't understand is why it misses major chain supermarkets and finds obscure little specialty groceries.

My new place has a Walkscore of 77, more than good enough for me. It is actually hard for me to visualize what a "more walkable" neighborhood would look like and just how it would function.

Yes, they miss the Wal-Mart 7 blocks away (0.4 miles ?) and a close by theatre (also 7 blocks away) and the nearest Farmer's Market (also 7 blocks away).

No allowance for the bus stop literally by my front gate (one of the busiest routes in town), the streetcar 3 blocks away (which I use for any trip > 3/4 mile away with rare exceptions).

And the park literally across the street is 0.14 miles away (they must measure to the center of the park).

Functionally they miss my tailor (6 blocks away), barber (closest 4 blocks away), banks (3 blocks away), office supplies (6 blocks) insurance agent and they make no allowance for ease of bicycling (GREAT) in the area.

BTW, the sidewalks are still passable despite the hordes of people walking everywhere.

Still, I understand the limitations of databases and they provide a quite good "first cut" at the issues.

Best Hopes,


BTW, they did not list a KFC that is one of the ten closest restaurants. I never eat there since better food from locals in available.

Well, there's walkability by design and walkability by necessity. Designed walkabiliy is found in many European cities that were designed and built long before modern architecture and cars came into the picture.

There's also walkability now and walkability in the future. Who's to say that the nearby grocery store is going to be there ATD (after the deluge)? I live a block from museum and playhouse, two blocks from hospital, four from grocery store, two from post office, four to the local transit station, and two from the local farmer's market. But ATD, will the hospital still be open? The playhouse? Museum? Post office? grocery store? How will the farmer get his stuff here? Will the buses still run?

Then there's walkability when you're young and possible non-walkability when you get up in years. And even though there are at least several thousand people living in the same area where I live, very few walk and nearly all still drive; I see them everywhere, many obese. So there's walkability by choice and non-walkability by choice.

This thing is full-on ridic...

I happen to know that my town is highly walkable as we walk/bike everywhere. the locations we bike to are easily walkable and this town has a vibrant center which is highly walkable, and still largely structured the way it was pre-car.

yet, this site has loads of neighborhoods in NYC listed as more walkable!

granted, in NYC, you can walk less than 1 block to a business which sells items categorized as "food," but what if that business is 7-11? You can get a $2 can of campbell's soup, a 99 cent sack of circus peanuts, some jerky and a monster drink.

hardly what I'd call substantial, nourishing fare.

But even worse about this site is its dismal failure at distinguishing from cities which are wholly dependent on external and corporate-supplied inputs versus locations which would fare better if the whole "just in time" system were to collapse or be interrupted.

for example, we are virtually surrounded by farms, at least 2 dairies, and if things got really tough, there's a nearby source of fish and deer.

How's NYC stack up against that? Where's the nearest farm to Tribeca? The nearest Dairy?

If the several-times-daily trucked in supply chain were to get borked, how would tribecans get their food? will they scratch out a garden on their balconies?

plus...how's the air quality in NYC? the pressures from congestion and high population density? the crime? does everyone in those 'hoods feel nice n comfy about headin' down to the stop n rob at 3am for some gnosh?

I think that most commentors to this post are about on the same page, and I think it's high time for better critical analysis of any/all products/services which seem to be pandering to a public hungry for solutions to what they are beginning to perceive as an extremely serious problem of how we live.


I've looked at Walkscore in the past, and while it is not a perfect scoring mechanism by far, it does help put important aspects of many neighborhoods into perspective. I looked at several neighbhoods I've lived in, and others that friends and relatives live in around the country. True, they miss some important businesses in some neighborhoods, but people can compensate for this by noting those places that are missing or are preferable and tweak the score accordingly. They're continuing to improve it, so it can be a valuable tool for those looking to move and who know something about the neighborhood they are considering. Noting bike lane/path infrastructure more fully would also be a boon.

The algorithm is very crude. The only data that is used to measure walkability is distance as the crow flies to businesses and other things that one would walk to. In other words, it measures geographic density of mixed-use But the distances are highly inaccurate, especially in suburban locations with poorly connected street grids. If you live adjacent to a mall, you may get a high walkscore, even if you can't get to the mall except by car. To correct this BIG problem, walkscore would have to use street centerlines, data which is available. I am surprised that walkscore has not corrected this major flaw.

The challenge, then would be to measure actual walkability of thoroughfares. This would be very difficult, because data on things like sidewalks is not generally available. However, there are some proxies that could be used. Highly walkable places tend to have a dense intersection density, for example.

Housing Affordability plus Housing & Transportation Affordability

also Gas Cost Impact

For a number of cities (default is Minneapolis, click "Change Region" arrow).

I just got this link, and played with it for a couple of minutes.


Best Hopes for Computer Mapping,