Matt Lerner

Matt Lerner

Matt Lerner is CTO of Walk Score. Matt bikes to work every day and recently broke his bicycle chain in half pulling his two boys in the bike trailer. Follow him on Twitter @mrlerner.

Articles by Matt:

More Insight Into Your Score

Today, we’re excited to launch a new way to help you understand your Walk Score. The Score Details Report explains the Walk Score of a location and shows which categories are more or less walkable.  For example, a home or apartment might have great walkability for restaurants and shopping but not for parks and schools.

Score Details

Click the Score Badge to see your Score Details Report explaining your Walk Score.

More Accurate Scores

Last year, with our 2014 City and Neighborhood Rankings, we launched our “Street Smart” Walk Score methodology.  We’ve started rolling this more accurate methodology out to every address.  To do this, we’ve analyzed over 300 billion walking routes to update the Walk Score for 1.5 billion locations.

Updated scores and the Score Details Report are available today on all of our apartment and rental listings and will be coming to your address soon.  If you’d like your Score Details Report and updated score, just Tweet @walkscore with your address and we’ll send you a link.

How Does “Street Smart” Walk Score Work?

For each location, “Street Smart” Walk Score computes the walkability of an address by calculating hundreds of walking routes to nearby places, measuring the depth of choice in each category (e.g. restaurant choice), analyzing pedestrian friendliness, and using the best local data including tens of thousands of places added by the Walk Score community.

How Scores Are Changing

Scores may go down in neighborhoods without direct walking routes.

For walkable neighborhoods (pictured above on the left), our “Street Smart” methodology does a better job distinguishing between walkable and very walkable places.  Getting a high score requires depth of choice — for example, the ability to walk to a large number of restaurants.  In walkable neighborhoods, scores will be similar or may increase.

For less walkable neighborhoods (pictured above on the right), scores may decrease because walking routes are longer and pedestrian friendliness is lower (measured by urban planning metrics such as average block length and intersection density).

World Walk Score Map

Thanks to all the people in all the bright places on the map above who have looked up their Walk Score!  As always, please send us your feedback!

 

Crime Grade for Homes and Apartments

A high Walk Score tells you that you’re close to the people and places you love. But is the neighborhood safe from crime?

Today we’re announcing Crime Grade, the first measure of crime safety for a home or apartment that accurately measures your personal risk.  Crime Grade is an A – D rating that tells you how likely you are to be affected by crime.

Crime Grade is an A-D rating for an address.

Crime Grade is an A—D rating for an address.

Why Does it Matter?

Crime safety is a top concern for people looking for apartments and shopping for homes. What matters most is your per capita risk of being affected by crime.  Other crime maps and statistics often make walkable neighborhoods with lots of people (e.g. Downtowns) seem unsafe because they only measure how many crimes are reported — not the per capita crime rate.

The Walk Score Crime Grade is computed using a patent-pending system that aggregates crimes near an address and weights crimes by severity and distance.  We calculate a per capita crime rate for an address based on the total population (residents and workers) in the area.  Crime rates are then compared against city-wide rates and converted into a letter grade. We have a separate Crime Grade for personal crime (e.g. robbery or violent crime that affects a person) and property crime (e.g. burglary or theft that affects property). This allows you to accurately compare your crime risk between addresses in a city.

For example, below are two maps of crime in Chicago. The map on the left shows reported crimes and makes Downtown Chicago appear quite dangerous.  The Walk Score crime map on the right shows the Crime Grade (e.g. your per capita risk of being affected by crime) in this area. Although there are a lot of crimes reported in Downtown Chicago, there are so many people that your personal risk is still low.

Crime Maps

Available for Every Address in 16 Cities

Crime Grades are available in the 16 cities listed below where police departments make their crime reports publicly available:

Crime Grades are available today on all Walk Score apartment and rental listings in the cities above and will be rolling out to every address in these cities soon.

We’ve been working on our Crime Grade methodology for over a year.  We initially launched neighborhood crime comparisons in the summer of 2013. Please send us your feedback, we’d love to hear what you think.

 

Apartments for Every Lifestyle

Want an apartment with a front porch?

At Walk Score, we believe where you live has a big impact on your lifestyle.  That’s why we help you find walkable apartments with short commutes near the people and places you love.

The amenities in your building also have a big impact on your lifestyle. Starting today, you can search through all of our rentals to find the exact amenities and floor plans that suit you.

If you want hardwood floors, a top floor apartment, a deck, garden, or maybe a fireplace, just type any of those things into our new search box.

When you view a rental listing, we’ll show you which part of the apartment description matches your search.

 

We’ve found an apartment with a front porch for you.

Find Rentals on iPhone and Android

We’ve also updated our iPhone app and Android app to make it easier to find the perfect rental.  Our new floor plan viewer lets you see the layout of each unit in a building.

See the layout of each unit in a building with our iPhone or Android app.

See apartment floor plans with our iPhone app or Android app.

Happy summer apartment hunting!  Maybe it’s time for an apartment with a pool?

 

 

 

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!

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 or buying a home 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%

Note that rentals and real estate in a city such as Tuscon is much less expensive than in a food-friendly city such as Philadelphia.

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.
  • Homes with high Walk Scores tend to make good rental property investments.

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.

Thinking about buying a new home instead of renting? Real Estate doesn’t come cheap in transit-friendly cities like San Francisco or Washington DC but if you can swing it you’ll certainly reap the rewards.

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.

New Apartment Search App for Android

New Walk Score Rentals App

We’re excited to launch our new apartment and rental search app for Android phones and tablets today!

With our new Android app you can search for apartments and rentals on the go and see the Walk Score of any address.

Of course, the app also provides great neighborhood information including maps of nearby places and photos of thousands of neighborhoods.

Features:

  • Find apartments and rentals
  • Instantly get the Walk Score of any location
  • View nearby public transit and other amenities
  • Photos of parks, restaurants, shops, and more
  • See the freshest rental listings from top sites

Download the Walk Score Android app.

Walk Score helps you find a place you love where you can drive less and live more.

Walk Score for Android

Walk Score for iPhone

If you’re an iPhone user, check out our app which is currently featured in the iTunes Home Sweet Home section.

Walk Score featured in iTunes store.