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Walk Score Blog

Now Serving Over 20 Million Scores Per Day

That’s almost 14,000 Walk Score, Transit Score and Bike Score ratings being shown to home and apartment shoppers every minute! Wow.

Every day we hear from renters, home shoppers, property managers, realtors and real estate developers about the growing importance of walkability, short commutes, bike-ability and access to public transit. As such, it’s no surprise to see a growing body of research highlighting walkable neighborhoods as economic engines, talent magnets and valuable real estate investments. And we expect this trend to continue. Four in five millennials say they want to live in places where they have a variety of options to get to jobs, school or daily needs; and three in four say they’ll likely choose to live where they do not need a car to get around.

We’re honored to see the real estate industry continue to embrace Walk Score as the leading measure of neighborhood walkability. For example, earlier this year, Walk Score was added to NAR’s Green MLS Toolkit. And, as a RETS compliant data point, Walk Score is now easier than ever for MLS to add to their systems.

Laura Stukel

“The RESO Data Dictionary evolves in response to home buyer demand. Walk Score is a great addition to the Dictionary because home shoppers are increasingly looking for walkable places to live. Walk Score makes it easy to quickly evaluate whether a house is located near food, shopping, parks, schools and other neighborhood amenities. And since homes save so much energy from location efficiency, Walk Score is a natural choice to include. Data fields like Walk Score also appear in the Green MLS Toolkit, increasing standardization and making it easier for local MLS to add,” said Laura Stukel, REALTOR L.W. Reedy Real Estate and manager of Elevate Energy’s Value for High Performance Homes Campaign.

Transit Score Market Coverage

Transit Score is Now Available for Over 350 Cities

I’m also pleased to share that Patent No.: US 8,738,422 B2 “Systems, Techniques, and Methods For Providing Location Assessments” (aka Walk Score) issued earlier this year. Congratulations to Walk Score founders Matt Lerner, Jesse Kocher and Mike Mathieu. This is great recognition for their industry leadership and insight into the importance of measuring the walkability of every address, neighborhood, zip code and city.

Here’s to helping more people find walkable places to live!

What Makes a Great Apartment Search?

Think back to the last time you moved.  You might have thought, “I want a better commute and I want to live near the people and places I love.”

Whether you’re a so-called millennial (born after 1980) who likes using your smartphone more than driving a car — or whether you’re an aging baby boomer who wants to drive less — more and more people are looking for what we call “walkability.”

Our goal is to help people find walkable places to live.  So we were thrilled to find out Walk Score was named one of the 5 best apartment search tools by Lifehacker and our newly updated iPhone app was named one of 4 essential iPhone apps by Wired Magazine.

Here are some tips and tricks to find your Walker’s Paradise:

Compare Commutes

Favorite any address on Walk Score to compare commute times to the places you travel frequently.

Compare Commutes

Search By Commute Time

You can search for apartments by commute time driving, on public transit, biking, or walking with our Android app and iPhone app or on our website.

Compare Floor Plans

Our new Floor Plan viewer lets you quickly browse floor plans and prices for any listing.

Floor Plan Viewer

Get Your Score Card

And last but not least, whenever you’re looking for a place to live make sure to check your score card.

Score Card

 

Let us know what you think makes a great apartment search!

 

Walkable Summer Reads

"Reading’tis the season for the summer reading list! After watching this TEDx talk  (The Suburbs are Dying, so Let’s Create a New American Dream), I hunted down Leigh Gallagher’s The End of the Suburbs. I liked the way she spoke about the shift in what the American Dream means to those looking for a home today, so I wanted to hear more of her ideas.

“In The End of the Suburbs journalist Leigh Gallagher traces the rise and fall of American suburbia from the stately railroad suburbs that sprung up outside American cities in the 19th and early 20th centuries to current-day sprawling exurbs where residents spend as much as four hours each day commuting. Along the way she shows why suburbia was unsustainable from the start and explores the hundreds of new, alternative communities that are springing up around the country and promise to reshape our way of life for the better.”

If you’re interested in learning more about what’s happening around the idea of walkable cities — and walking in general — we’ve compiled a handful of good reads to keep you occupied:

  • Walkable City by Jeff Speck: Speck is an urban planner and advocate for sustainable growth. His book tackles both the process and the benefits of growing cities that fully embrace walkability as a value. (Note:  I follow Jeff on Twitter and he posts great links to interesting shorter web reads, too.)

    “Jeff Speck has dedicated his career to determining what makes cities thrive. And he has boiled it down to one key factor: walkability. Making downtown into a walkable, viable community is the essential fix for the typical American city; it is eminently achievable and its benefits are manifold. Walkable City—bursting with sharp observations and key insights into how urban change happens—lays out a practical, necessary, and inspiring vision for how to make American cities great again.”

  • Wanderlust by Rebecca Solnit: A history of walking, that most human of activities. Solnit’s book features poets and ramblers and philosphers and takes us walking in  — can you believe it? — Las Vegas.

    “What does it mean to be out walking in the world, whether in a landscape or a metropolis, on a pilgrimage or a protest march? In this first general history of walking, Rebecca Solnit draws together many histories to create a range of possibilities for this most basic act.”

  • The Option of Urbanism by Christopher B. Leinberger: What made the car dependent suburbs so popular and how does the US government continue to favor suburban development? Leinberger examines the intersection of politics, development and sustainability.

    “In The Option of Urbanism visionary developer and strategist Christopher B. Leinberger explains why government policies have tilted the playing field toward one form of development over the last sixty years: the drivable suburb. Rooted in the driving forces of the economy—car manufacturing and the oil industry—this type of growth has fostered the decline of community, contributed to urban decay, increased greenhouse gas emissions, and contributed to the rise in obesity and asthma.”

  • Unlocking Home by Alan Durning: A look at how zoning and regulations are limiting housing options, slowing the development of the kind of density that makes for great walkable cities, and as an unfortunate by product, limiting affordable housing.

    “Hidden in city regulations is a set of simple but powerful barriers to affordable housing for all. These rules criminalize history’s answers to affordable dwellings: the rooming house, the roommate, the in-law apartment, and the backyard cottage. In effect, cities have banned what used to be the bottom end of the private housing market. They’ve made urban quarters expensive and scarce, especially for low-income people such as students, seniors, blue-collar workers, artists, and others who make our cities diverse and vibrant.”

  • Completing Our Streets by Barbara McCann: Barbara McCann founded the National Complete Streets Coalition, an organization that advocates that streets are not just for cars, they’re for transit, cyclists, and pedestrians too. Her book is a practical take on how to work for Complete Streets in your community.

    “The complete streets movement is based around a simple idea: streets should be safe for people of all ages and abilities, whether they are walking, driving, bicycling, or taking the bus. Completing Our Streets gives practitioners and activists the strategies, tools, and inspiration needed to translate this idea into real and lasting change in their communities.”

Did we leave anything out?

And a safety warning to keep you on your feet — don’t walk and read, kids! The worst ankle injury I’ve ever had was because I was reading and walking at the same time.

Reading is good. Walking is good. Do both, just not at the same time.

Image: Reading in Central Park via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Find Your Walker’s Paradise

Spring is here and warm weather brings out the best in city living – from farmer’s markets to sidewalk cafes and urban beaches. But walking doesn’t have to be seasonal. As a senior, graduating from the University of Washington, wherever I land next, I’m hoping to live in a Walker’s Paradise. To help inspire your search, here are some great apartment buildings with a Walk Score of 90+.

AVA 55 Ninth Apartments – San Francisco

Buildings like AVA 55 Ninth in San Francisco (Walk Score: 95) can help you ditch the car and lace up your walking shoes. Located in the South of the Market neighborhood, AVA 55 Ninth is surrounded by SF’s tech startup scene, SOMA’s Farmer’s Market and the annual Noise Pop Musical Festival. Building manager, Christina Park adds: “We’re also near Bay Area Bike Share kiosks so even if you don’t want to walk, you don’t have to drive!”

Tower 737 (Walk Score: 98) is another San Francisco option if you’re not one for driving. Their apartments in Lower Nob Hill are within walking distance of the Financial District and SF’s Union Square. If you want to walk to a movie, no problem; If you want to take the cable car back, it’s all good.

Chicago’s skyline has some unbeatable buildings if you’re up for a stroll on the Magnificent Mile. The Aqua at Lakeshore East Apartments (Walk Score: 94) has easy access to Chicago’s Pedway system, so if there’s a cold breeze in the windy city, you can walk in the warm(er) underground tunnels. Feeling royal? The Regal Apartments (Walk Score: 94) in the South Loop, can also help you keep the car at home. Formerly a publishing business district, The Regal’s neighborhood maintains a unique look with early 1900s architecture.

Kensington Boston Apartments

How about Boston? We’re excited about The Kensington’s Walk Score of 98 and their two-block walk to the Boston Opera House. Hotels closeby mean that your family can skip renting a car while on vacation and stay close to you (even if you’d rather they didn’t).

Feeling sleepless? Maybe Seattle is more your speed. We’re all about the Emerald City for a few reasons: 1. We live here, 2. We love coffee, and 3. Our office has a Walk Score of 98. But we’re not the only spot in Seattle with a stellar Walk Score. The brand new Sunset Electric Apartments, located in the heart of the rapidly developing Capitol Hill neighborhood (and just around the corner from our office) has a Walk Score of 98, Transit Score of 81 and Bike Score of 89.

Taylor 28 Apartment Homes in South Lake Union make it easy to grab dinner on top of the Space Needle or visit Seattle’s Experience Music Project. The combination of the Taylor 28’s Walk Score of 98 and Bike Score of 87 means there’s no need to sit in traffic on a sunny Seattle day. We have more of those than you’d think…

So get out and explore your city, and let us help you find your Walker’s Paradise, there are thousands to choose from!

A Home for You – AND Your Bike, Too!

Maybe you’d like to ride more, but the hassle of liberating your bike from the storage locker every time you want to go get coffee is too much to deal with. The scowl from the building manager when you’ve got your bike in the elevator feels like an accusation. If there’s an elevator – you might be using the stairs because you’d rather keep your bike in your apartment than trust it to the garage.

There’s good news. Rentals with bike friendly services are on the rise. This year, for Bike to Work Week we’re all about these buildings that have amazing amenities for our rides.

In Denver (Bike Score: 70) a handful of buildings are adding bike rooms – DIY repair shops with work benches and tools. From the Denver Post:

Susan Maxwell, director of real estate for Zocalo, said the Velo Room at Solera includes “all the tools that you might need — Park brand tools, a stand to put your bike on while you work on it, a workbench, aprons, air pumps, tubes and lube, and other supplies. Also, consumables such as gel packs and energy bars, as well as maps on the wall for the more than 800 miles of bike trails in the Denver area.”

Biking is part of the design style at Cruise in Denver

Biking is part of the design style at Cruise in Denver

Cruise, a building in a Biker’s Paradise neighborhood, has bikes at the center of its design aesthetic. They gave away cruiser bikes as an incentive to renters, they’ve got the coveted bike room on site, and there’s storage space for your fair weather ride – we know you don’t have just one.

No surprises here – Portland (Bike Score: 70) buildings also have bike friendly services as part of what they’re offering renters. Currently under construction in the city’s Lloyd District, a cycle-centric apartment complex named Hassalo on Eighth has 1,200 bicycle parking spaces in its design. That’s believed to be more than any other apartment building in North America.

The Milano (which bill’s itself as “Portland’s premier bicycle friendly apartments, designed and built from the ground up to accommodate everything the Portland bicycle community need from an apartment complex”) and EcoFlats PDX both have secured indoor wall mounted parking for your ride. EcoFlats PDX has a bike bar on the ground floor and yes, it’s totally okay for you to hang your bike from the ceiling in your loft.

Velo Bike Shop located in the Via6 Apartments

Velo Bike Shop located in the Via6 Apartments

In Seattle (Bike Score: 64), Portland’s neighbor to the north, Via6 Apartments also has a bike shop at the ground level and there are 250 bike parking spots. Seattle just announced its new bike share program, so you don’t even need to own a bike to live a bicycle friendly life.

But bike friendly living isn’t just a west of the Rockies thing. A developer in Philadelphia (Bike Score: 68) opened a handful of buildings with bike sharing included – no bike, no excuse, the properties have a small fleet you can access for free.

And several communities in the Washington DC area – long a great city for cyclists – are using bike amenities to entice potential renters. Crescent, in nearby Arlington, VA has a room in the garage with storage for up to 200 bikes, offers complimentary loaners to residents and is home to Tri360, a swim/bike/run shop.

We’re psyched to learn that there are places where our bikes are not just welcome, but a part of the design for apartment living. We’d ride anyway – every week is bike to work week for us – but anything that makes living with a bike easier, we’re all for it.

  • Do you live in a building with great biking amenities? What could your building offer that would make biking a better option? Tell us about it in the comments.
  • Want to live a bike ride away from work? Use My Commutes on the map tool bar to find a rental within biking distance.

Happiness is a Short Commute

It’s true! In fact, one study found that a person with a one-hour commute has to earn 40% more to be as satisfied with life as someone who walks to the office. And, the inverse it true too. A Swedish study found that people who endure more than a 45-minute commute are 40% more likely to divorce.

Similarly, during a 5-year study of the happiest places on Earth, National Geographic fellow Dan Buettner found that “the top two things we hate the most on a day-to-day basis is, No. 1: housework and No. 2: the daily commute in our cars… It’s an easy way for us to get happier. Move closer to your place of work.”

Find Your Better Commute Today

A better commute might be a shorter drive, taking public transit so you can read a book, or being able to walk or bike to work for exercise.  Sometimes my biking commute is the best part of my day!

Get started finding your better commute and make more room for the rest of your life. Our Android and iPhone apps make it easy.

Do You Live in a Food Desert?

A food desert is a neighborhood without access to healthy food.  Why does this matter? Living in a food desert can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease1.

Walk Score helps you make more informed decisions about where to live, like finding an apartment within walking distance of a grocery store.

Many cities are making access to healthy food part of their general plans.  For example, Washington D.C.’s sustainability plan sets a goal of having 75% of residents within a 5 minute walk of healthy food.

But how many people can walk to a grocery store in 5 minutes?

Today, we’re announcing a new ranking of the best and worst U.S. cities for access to food based on our database of local places and our Travel Time API and ChoiceMaps technology.

The Best Cities for Food Access

Our ranking measures access to healthy food by calculating the percent of people in a city who can walk to a grocery store in 5 minutes.  The ranking below includes U.S. cities with more than 500,000 residents.

The best cities for access to healthy food are:

Rank City People with Food Access (5 min walk)
1 New York 72%
2 San Francisco 59%
3 Philadelphia 57%
4 Boston 45%
5 Washington D.C. 41%
The best and worst cities for food access.

The best and worst large cities for food access.
Areas in green indicate where you can walk to a grocery store in 5 mins.

The Worst Cities for Food Access

The following cities have the lowest percentage of people who can walk to a grocery store within 5 minutes:

Rank City People with Food Access (5 min walk)
1 Indianapolis 5%
2 Oklahoma City 5%
3 Charlotte 6%
4 Tucscon 6%
5 Albuquerque 7%

Don’t See Your City? Urban planners and researchers, please contact us to unlock your city.

Methodology

To calculate the percent of residents in a city with access to healthy food we use a variety of data sources and technologies.  Our population data and city boundaries come from the U.S. Census. Our list of grocery stores comes from a mix of Google, Localeze, and places added via the Walk Score website. We calculated millions of walking routes for this ranking with our Travel Time API.

Our goal is to only include grocery stores that sell produce.  We filter out convenience stores with a combination of algorithmic filters and crowdsourcing.  That said, it’s harder than it sounds to get a clean list of grocery stores.  If you see a convenience store miscategorized as a grocery store, please click the “Edit place” link and help us improve our data quality.

Our rankings are proximity based and do not include the cost of food.  Some studies have shown that shoppers select supermarkets based on price as well as proximity2.  For example, people with lower incomes may travel farther to shop at a cheaper grocery store.

Unlike other food desert maps, our maps are dynamic and updated in real-time as our database of underlying grocery stores changes.

Walk Score Data for Your City, County or State 

Walk Score data is being used by a growing number of cities and planning districts.  “The City of San Jose is using Walk Score data to start tracking performance metrics for our general plan such as how many people can walk to fresh food and parks,” said Joseph Horwedel, Deputy City Manager of San Jose.

Walk Score offers data in spreadsheet or shapefile format for every address in the U.S., Canada, and Australia.  We have also aggregated our data for every city and ZIP code in the U.S.

Planners, researchers, and analysts are using Walk Score in a variety of ways:

Contact us to learn more about using Walk Score data in your research and analysis and watch this video to learn more about Walk Score ChoiceMaps:

Best Canadian Cities for Public Transit

Following on our ranking of the best U.S. cities for public transit earlier this year, today we’re announcing our first ranking of the best Canadian cities for public transit.

We’ve calculated the Transit Score of 38 Canadian cities and almost 1,000 neighborhoods to help you find an apartment for rent or home for sale with a better commute and more transportation choices.

In comparison to the United States, Toronto and Montreal score better than any large U.S. city except New York and San Francisco. And Vancouver, with a Transit Score of 74, trounces nearby Seattle (our home town), with a Transit Score of 57.

The Best Large Canadian Cities for Public Transit

canada-ranking

Here is our Transit Score ranking of Canadian cities with more than 500,000 residents:

Rank City Transit Score
1 Toronto 78
2 Montréal 77
3 Vancouver 74
4 Winnipeg 51
5 Ottawa 49
6 Brampton 48
7 Québec 46
8 Edmonton 44
9 Calgary 43
10 Hamilton 42

Click on the cities in the list above to explore the best neighborhoods for public transit.

Transit Score Ranking Methodology

The rankings are based on our Transit Score algorithm, which measures how well a location is served by public transit. Addresses with a Transit Score of 90-100 are considered a “Rider’s Paradise.” Places with a score of 70–89 have Excellent Transit. Scores of 50–69 indicate places with Good Transit and ratings of 49 or lower indicate areas with Some or Minimal Transit options. Read the Transit Score methodology.

Find Apartments Near Public Transit

There’s growing evidence that living near good public transportation is a smart decision. For example, living near public transit can save you money. Transportation is the 2nd largest household expense in Canada. Taking public transit is cheaper than owning a car. And living near good public transit might just make you happier — after all, nobody likes being stuck in traffic.

Walk Score Apartment Search helps you find apartments near public transit.  For example, here’s a map of rentals within a 30 minute public transit commute of Downtown Vancouver.

Apartments within a 30 minute public transit commute of Vancouver.

Apartments within a 30 minute public transit commute of Downtown Vancouver.

Take Walk Score on the Go

Our award-winning Walk Score iPhone and Android apps let you take Walk Score on the go in Canada.  You can use our apps to get the Walk Score of any location and find apartments and rentals.

mobile-near-transit

 

Compare Commutes for Homes and Apartments

Commuting is expensive and nobody likes to be stuck in traffic.  Most of us want to live close to the people and places we love.

So today we’re launching a feature that lets you compare commute and travel times for any property.  Let’s say you’re looking for an apartment where you can drive to school and your roommate can take public transit downtown. Just add those commutes to your Favorites and you’ll see something like this:

Compare Commute Times

Or let’s say you’re looking at homes for sale on any of the 30,000 real estate sites that use Walk Score.  You can click on the score to visit Walk Score and start comparing the homes you’re considering.

To get started comparing commutes, just click the Favorites link at the top of this page.  You can compare travel times with and without rush hour traffic, by public transit, walking and biking.

compare-dialog

How much does your commute matter? Here are some of our favorite commuting facts:

  • Commuting by car is expensive. Be sure to consider the cost of your car, gas and parking when deciding where to live. The average American spends over $9,000 per year on their car. That’s the second largest expense for most households — and a lot of coin!
  • U.S. commuters waste over 4 billion hours per year in traffic. Commuting 10 extra minutes per day adds up to a full day over the course of a year! Imagine spending that time with your friends and family, working on your favorite hobby or volunteering in your community instead.
  • There’s even evidence that short commutes make you happier.

How do you calculate travel times?  Good question!  Our rush hour drive times give you an accurate picture of travel times during peak commute hours.  Rush hour drive times are based on average traffic in your city.  The rush hour times we show give you a 90% probability of arriving on time.  In other words, there’s a 10% chance you’ll have a longer commute due to an accident, snow storm, Super Bowl parade, etc.

We’ve also collected transit data from over 300 transit agencies to calculate public transit times and we use road network data from Open Street Map to compute walk and bike times.  Read more about our Travel Time API.

We look forward to helping you find a better commute!

New Ranking of Best U.S. Cities for Public Transit

Today we’re announcing a new ranking of the best cities in the United States for public transit.

We’ve calculated the Transit Score for 316 cities and almost 7,000 neighborhoods to help home shoppers and apartment hunters find places to live with better commutes and more transportation choices.

Where Can You Live Car-Free?

Here are the best U.S. cities for public transportation.

Rank City Transit Score
1 New York 81
2 San Francisco 80
3 Boston 75
4 Washington D.C. 70
5 Philadelphia 67

New Public Transit Ranking by Region

How does your city compare to other cities in your region?  See the full list of cities.

Regional Transit Score Ranking

The older Northeast cities with established subway systems have the highest scores.  West Coast cities that have made more recent investments in light rail also score well.  Although cities in the south have a low average Transit Score of 38, there are many neighborhoods with high scores such as Downtown Houston or the Brickell Neighborhood in Miami.

Living Near Public Transit

There’s growing evidence that buying a house or renting an apartment near public transit is a smart idea.

  • First, it’s likely a better investment.  The National Association of Realtors found that home values performed 42% better when they were located near public transit1.  In Boston, a recent study showed that home prices near public transit outperformed the region by 129%2.
  • Living near public transit saves you money. The average American spends $9,859 per year on their car3. Did you know this is the equivalent of a $135,000 mortgage?!  Transportation is the second largest expense for American households4.
  • And living near good public transit might just make you happier5 — after all, nobody likes being stuck in traffic.

Walk Score helps you find apartments near public transit with our unique search by commute time features.  Download our iPhone app or Android app to find a place to live with a better commute.

mobile-near-transit

Transit Score Ranking Methodology

Our ranking is based on the average resident’s access to public transit in a city.  To compute our ranking, we calculated the Transit Score of over 1.9  million locations in 316 cities.  We use a population-weighted methodology to compute the average Transit Score for a city.  Our top 10 cities list includes cities with populations over 500,000 people.  Read more about Walk Score methodology.