<a href="http://www.greenlifestylemag.com.au/blogs/rebecca#">Home, Garden and Planet</a>

Home, Garden and Planet

Rebecca Blackburn on the trials, and triumphs of being green around the home.

How walkable is your neighbourhood?

Credit: image*after

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While the Prius continues to score big in the green glamour stakes, a far simpler (and cheaper) way to cut your transport emissions is to live near what you need.

But how do you find out what is within walking distance? Once it would have taken a fair bit of research but now you can avoid the hard work by looking up Walkscore, a new webtool.

Using google maps Walkscore analyses the walkability of a location based on proximity to grocery stores, restaurants, coffee shops, movie theatres, schools, libraries, bars, chemists, parks, bookstores and hardware stores.

As well as giving a walkability index that ranges from car dependant (0-24) to walker’s paradise (90 – 100), it produces a map that shows you the location of nearby services. It also lists the top eight closest schools, shops, movie theatres etc, and the distances to them.

So does it work? I tested out my place and wasn’t surprised to find my neighbourhood ranked 75 out of hundred, which means most people can get by without a car. We chose the area specifically so we could minimise car use – and these days no longer own one.

However it’s not perfect – for example Walkscore calculated the nearest coffee shop to my place is 0.5 km – but there are three much closer. It’s also worth noting that distances are as the crow flies – so it might take a bit longer to walk there if you can’t go in a straight line.

Walkscore is strictly about walking so if you want public transport info you will need to look it up yourself. Other things you might want to consider when searching for a new home is location of car share pods and the feasibility of cycling.

But despite these limitations Walkscore would be a great starting point when looking for a new house. It's even worth looking up just to see what’s nearby – you might be surprised and find a groovy café that you didn’t even know existed!

If your neighbourhood doesn’t rate so well check out this list – it gives lots of tips on things you can do to help improve its walkability.

How does your neighbourhood rate on the Walkscore index?

Comments

This tool is a great idea executed really badly. The database is clearly either very out of date or damaged in some way. I tried a test run on my home address and many alleged resources in the community were either in the wrong place entirely, had long since closed down or were quite wrongly included (eg a company that simply makes home bars from timber was listed as a bar!!!). I am at a loss as to know how the database was constructed if this is as good as the data gets in accuracy. I suggest G online does everyone a favour and banishes any reference to this site until they get their act together. Poor information and no quality control at all will be the death knell of the web if this keeps up.

Regards

Syd

I was very disappointed with the Walkscore site - it only rated my address at 51/100 - I have a park only a block and a half away but it wasn't listed; ditto a hardware store closer than the one listed by the site; ditto a supermarket and bar - and some of the venues listed on the site have been closed. I don't think it's very accurate at all.

Our home is 1.16km from 2 major shipping centers and all the amenities in town. Whilst we only scored 49 and were determined by the site to be "car dependent", I walk to work each day and walk to the shops on days off (we have only one car). I wouldn't want to carry (or push) a trolley load of groceries home given a choice, but if I found a way to get them home more easily I'd certainly give it a try. Mind you we have a smaller mini market that is great, close by and a backpack of essentials is manageable.

Walkscore is a great concept at and makes you more aware of what is within walking distance so you don't take the care just out of habit.

I only got 43/100 for my house, but that does show the limitation of excluding public transport - I live very close to a train station, which means I'm easily able to get into Perth for as much shopping, eating, library time and entertainment as I like. But it's a very useful map anyway: I was able to find a new cafe close to my house!