<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?