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Try “Street Smart” Walk Score

We’ve been hard at work creating a preview of Street Smart Walk Score—an enhanced version of Walk Score that uses walking distances rather than crow-flies distances to calculate your score.

Street Smart Walk Score also looks at the underlying road network to compute the number of intersections per square mile and average block length. These two measures are great indicators of walkability.

Preview Street Smart Walk Score:


How it Works

For every Street Smart score, we generate hundreds of walking routes to find the nearest amenities. We also analyze the underlying street data to calculate the number of intersections and average block length.

Street Smart Walk Score gives more weight to amenities that are highly correlated with walking. In addition, multiple amenities in each category count towards your score—for example, we count 10 restaurants to reflect the depth of choice that walkable neighborhoods offer.

And, when you look up a Street Smart Walk Score, we give you a report showing exactly how many points each amenity contributed to your score. This makes the algorithm easy to understand and transparent.

We developed Street Smart Walk Score in conjunction with the Walk Score Advisory Board and Dr. Larry Frank, Professor of Sustainable Transportation at the University of British Columbia, and with funding from Active Living Research, a national program office of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Street Smart Example

Is this water clean enough for swimming?


No swimming necessary.

16 Responses to “Try “Street Smart” Walk Score”

  1. Douglas K. Says:

    I approve of the “crow flies” approach, but I have some problems with the way the scores are calculated and the categories are weighted.

    I agree that the nearest grocery store is a good basis for the walk score, but make sure it’s an actual supermarket. I got a very high “grocery” score based on a place that sells tofu and not much else, while the real supermarket (much further away) was not counted.

    I agree that using the ten closest restaurants is a worthwhile way to calculate the walk score for “restaurants and bars.” However, “coffee” is scored too high — it should be less than 15 points, or maybe should be folded into restaurants and bars. Combined, you have 35 points going to “places to eat out.”

    I don’t understand why “books” is a category separate from “shopping.” Is there some magic to having a book store in walking distance? Do the majority of us make trips to a book store on a weekly basis? Make no mistake, I do visit bookstores, but I don’t know why a bookstore has special value compared to any other specialty retail outlet — or a department store, for that matter.

    On the other hand, I think there SHOULD be a separate category for “pharmacies” since that IS a trip people are likely to make on a regular basis. I’m much more likely to make regular visits to Rite-Aid than Barnes and Noble.

    “Entertainment” should be worth more: maybe 12 points instead of 6, and should be structured like shopping, with the five closest options considered. Diversity in entertainment options is important. A neighborhood is more walkable when you can walk to a movie theater, nightclub, live theater, and concert hall than simple a movie theater.

    Personally, I think there should be 20 points for groceries, 15 for bars and restaurants, 5 for coffee (or 20 if restaurants and coffee are counted together), 15 for pharmacy, 15 for other shopping (including books), 12 for entertainment, and 6 each for schools, parks, and banking.

  2. JM Says:

    Hi, I am in the Kenton neighborhood in Portland Oregon and there are some items missing from the map.

    Fred Meyer Grocery store is 3-4 blocks from my house, at the intersection of Interstate and Lombard.

    There are some additional businesses on Denver that were not included: E-San Thai restaurant, Pizza Fino restaurant, Kenton Family Wellness Center (Acupuncture, Chinese medicine, Chiropractics, Massage Therapy, Naturopathic Medicine, counseling, yoga). I’m sure there are others that I’m missing.

    There is also a connection to a nature pathway starting next to the racetrack, past the golf course, all the way to Smith and Bybee lakes.

    I hope this is helpful.

    Thank you,

    JM

  3. Old houses, walkable, central, but with GREAT schools - Austin - Texas (TX) - Page 5 - City-Data Forum Says:

    [...] [...]

  4. Douglas K. Says:

    Correction: my first sentence in my prior post should have begun: “I approve of the alternative to the ‘crow flies’ approach,”

  5. F. Gentile Says:

    I much prefer the new “Street Smart” Walk Score. Our house scores an 89% rather than 80% using the older calculation.
    Good work!

  6. Aleisha Says:

    Thanks for the feedback! You can add missing amenities by following the “Add a place” link under the amenity map.

  7. The Survival Mama Says:

    Hey there…looks like you’re still working out the kinks. A lot of my followers calculated their scores, and were a little surprised at the results. I’m stunned that our highest crime areas in Salt Lake City have the best score. Maybe it’s time to add a crime equation to the algorithm????

    I like the concept, but still a few bugs. Keep me posted.

    The Survival Mama

  8. What is Walkability? How Do You Measure It? Take-Aways from This Year’s TRB Meeting « Project for Public Spaces - Placemaking for Communities Says:

    [...] walkability measures on proximity to key destinations. While the creators are currently piloting a “street smart” Walk Score, which uses actual street distance to destinations rather than “as the crow flies” distances, [...]

  9. Oaklander Says:

    Thanks—this is fun to check out! A few thoughts… For some reason all of the theaters in our area appear as “banking” amenities and the actual banks are missing—a problem with the code?? (Everything shows up properly with appropriate labels in Google Maps, so it’s not just a problem with the theaters being labeled incorrectly.)

    Also, you might consider alternate ways to track entertainment. For instance, in the “arts” center in our city, the galleries aren’t counted in entertainment, and many of the bars and clubs are also restaurants, so the dining score is maxed out but nothing but the local theater is listed under entertainment. Not sure how to reconcile this since clearly these venues should also be listed as restaurants, but it does seem to be a kink.

    Finally…”schools” seems to be based solely on whether there is a school nearby, with little consideration for what type of a school. (Public? Private? High School? Elementary? Alternative?) Again, not sure how to manage this since I’m not sure schools are labeled this way in Google, but it was funny to see my neighborhood max out its school score because of our local middle school, given that one of the biggest gripes families with children have is that there is no walkable elementary school.

  10. Katie M. Says:

    Along the same lines as Douglas K, I’d suggest that what you really need is a category called “Services.” You could wrap banking and pharmacies into that one, plus all the other service uses people might walk to that don’t really fall into the “shopping” category (examples that I walk to in my neighborhood: hair salon, nail salon, optometrist, yoga studio, post office). While a restaurant or bar might be a nice thing to have nearby, it’s the walkability of these types of uses that really have an impact on my travel behavior.

    Katie
    http://www.wherethesidewalkstarts.blogspot.com

  11. Derek Says:

    I live in an area that suffers under the new WalkScore. It says my neighborhood is “Car-Dependent” but this is false because the quality of transit here is quite good. Transit doesn’t seem to be a factor in the Street Smart Walk Score.

  12. Aleisha Says:

    Not all transit agencies provide open data, but in areas where public transit data is available we calculate a separate Transit Score. If your local agency provides open data, your Transit Score is shown under the Walk Score map. A Transit Score is not currently shown on the Street Smart page.

  13. Seth Kaplan Says:

    Wonderful tool. One little anomaly when I ran my address (14 White Place, Brookline MA, privacy be damned I am in the phone book anyway) – it correctly gave us a “6 out of 6″ for parks as we have good neighborhood parks but on detailed list of nearby stuff it listed “none” for name of nearby park.

    Great tool. I will do a post on CLF blog on this.

  14. Garlynn Says:

    Hi,

    Good job on this new and improved Street Smart Walk Score engine. The calculation using network paths greatly improves the relative and absolute accuracy of the results. The intersections per square mile calculation is also extremely useful.

    If anything, the only downside I see is actually an upside: By revealing the identities of every single business/destination by category, the new interface reveals deficiencies (like “hey, that’s not really a movie theater, it’s a movie studio/community center that shows movies or plays twice a month/abandoned”), which users can then take steps to correct. This last part could perhaps be made a bit smoother (i.e., ability to click on each category and add/remove entries based on local knowledge)… but, overall, it’s good stuff.

    Great work, keep it up!

    cheers,
    ~Garlynn

  15. Tom Says:

    I definitely prefer the Street Smart method. I live directly across from train tracks and between two track crossing. There’s a lot of amenities directly across the tracks, but I have to walk all the way around them. The original method gives me a 68 while the new method yields a more accurate 19, which reflects my isolation! I miss my old 91.

  16. Dee Says:

    Walk route networks are definitely better!
    But— the algorithm still needs work.

    I just checked the Street Smart scores for my home (small city with mature canopy trees separating, 5 ft sidewalks from low traffic <25 mph connected streets, and neighborhood retail within .6 mile of my home- very pleasant walks although the blocks are long, they av 571 ft) and my work address (major office campus on Buford Hwy which has 7 lanes of high speed traffic, where sidewalks exist they are adjacent to traffic and have little shade, there are few intersections and the retail is located in strip auto oriented malls, set behind large parking lots), my walk friendly neighborhood got a Street Smart score of 29 while the deadly Buford Hwy address got a score of 65.

    The speed of cars traveling on streets impacts walking comfort and safety. Can you add street speed factor to the calculation?

    In addition, when you are walking trees make a huge difference on safety. They also provide climate mitigation and visual softening. Perhaps you could add a tree canopy factor based on an air photo cover analysis.

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