All posts in “Local Living”
Transit Score Now Available for 350 U.S. Cities and More Than 10,000 Neighborhoods Across the Country
New York is the best city for public transit in the U.S., according to the 2016 Transit Score ranking. New York’s Transit Score increased 2.9 points to 84.1 from 81.2 in the last published ranking in 2014. We describe an address, neighborhood or city with a Transit Score of between 70 and 89 as having excellent transit, and a place scoring between 90 and 100 as a “rider’s paradise.”
In September, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) celebrated the first addition to New York City’s subway system in 26 years with the extension of the 7 line to the new 34th St.-Hudson Yards Station, connecting riders to the Javits Center, the High Line, the Hudson River Park and surrounding commercial and residential developments.
Below is a ranking of the top 10 U.S. cities (with populations of more than 300,000) for public transit.
|1||New York, NY||84.1|
|2||San Francisco, CA||80.4|
“Urban dwellers today want convenience,” said Redfin chief economist Nela Richardson. “Particularly in congested urban areas, a car may be the slowest way to get around the city. Homes near bus and subway lines tend to have higher values that hold up even during housing downturns. The fact that many cities are also investing in alternative forms of transit, like bike share, indicates how highly prized access to transit is by their residents.”
With the addition of 130 new U.S. cities and more than 3,000 new neighborhoods, Transit Score ratings are now available for 350 cities and more than 10,000 neighborhoods. Among the newly added cities are big ones like Phoenix (32.2) and Detroit (37.9), as well as smaller cities with big Transit Score ratings like Union City, NJ (80.2) and State College, PA (63.7). For a full ranking of U.S. cities by Transit Score, click here.
“After schools, access to public transportation is what New Jersey homebuyers ask about most frequently,” said Nick Boniakowski, Redfin market manager. “We spend a lot of time with our clients researching nearby bus and rail routes and stops, so being able to easily see that Union City, for example, has a higher Transit Score than pricier Jersey City (70) gives buyers another easy way to compare and evaluate homes, neighborhoods and cities.”
None of the cities on the list score in the rider’s paradise range, from 90 to 100. However, individual neighborhoods in many cities are riders’ paradises, like Boston’s Bay Village (100), Philadelphia’s Logan Square (100), The Loop (99.1) in Chicago and Belltown (98.1) in Seattle. Some cities that didn’t make the top 10 list are home to riders’ paradises, including downtown Pittsburgh (97.1), Old Town Chinatown (92.2) in Portland, OR and downtown Houston (92.8).
“Old Town Chinatown has basically every kind of public transportation imaginable, including a streetcar that zips around town (and is free of charge), the MAX light rail, a high-speed train that connects to a variety of suburbs and the airport, as well as a new Greyhound bus line and the Amtrak station,” said Redfin agent Megan Ronning. “Homebuyers in the greater Portland area are very drawn to the accessibility of its downtown neighborhoods and even the surrounding suburbs.”
To see how your home, neighborhood or city stacks up, search walkscore.com or Redfin.com.
The Transit Score algorithm calculates a score by summing the relative usefulness of public transit (bus, subway, light rail, ferry, etc.) routes near a given location. Usefulness is defined as the distance to the nearest stop on the route, the frequency of the route, and type of route (with twice as much weight given to heavy/light rail than to bus service). Transit Score is based on data published in General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) format by transit agencies across the country. For a more details on the Transit Score methodology, click here.
Adding to our recent release of 10,000 new city and neighborhood pages, we’re excited to announce two new pieces of local insight: Social Neighborhood Tags and Crime Reports.
Social Neighborhood Tags
For over 3,000 neighborhoods in almost 200 cities we’ve analyzed millions of tweets to let you know what people are talking about and what makes a place unique.
For example, people in Bellevue, Washington are talking about delicious Din Tai Fung dumplings:
People in the North End of Boston are talking about the Bruins (and oysters)!
Crime Reports and Maps
Crime is complex. Other real estate sites have crime maps that look like population maps. They simply show you that more crimes are reported where there are more people. This can be misleading since it doesn’t tell you anything about your odds of being a victim of a crime — and this can makes cities, especially downtowns, look less safe than they really are.
Today we’re launching the first crime statistics that let you accurately compare crime at the neighborhood level. Our crime data comes directly from police departments that release geotagged reports for every crime in a city.
In order to provide apples-to-apples comparisons between neighborhoods, we normalize our crime statistics by how many people live and work in the neighborhood and weight crimes according to severity. This allows you to assess your individual crime risk. For example, a downtown may have a lot of reported crime, but if it has a large number of residents and workers, your individual risk may still be low.
Guest post by Anne Taylor Hartzell, Hip Travel Mama blogger
Everyone knows the benefits of exercise–but did you know that your child’s exercise regimen actually impacts how well they perform in class? In a recent study by Professor Niels Egelund of Aarhus University in Denmark, it was discovered that children who walk or bike to school concentrate far better and longer than their carpooling counterparts.
The study of 19,527 school children ages 5-19 found that there is a strong connection between diet and exercise and a child’s ability to concentrate. It also showed that children who exercise more than two hours a week outside of school have an advantage over other students during the school day.
That advantage has garnered the attention of parents all over the United States, and in response, several different programs are now being implemented in communities across the nation, hoping to inspire young children to ditch the daily car commute to the classroom.
One program, Safe Routes to School, contributes to this cause nationally. They help communities build safe routes to schools so that parents and their children can feel comfortable heading to school on bikes or on foot. Safe Routes also provides school and community groups with funding for training, awareness, and strategies to encourage children to walk and bike to school.
Inspired to get your kid on the road to better health and a better education? Here are a few tips to get moving:
- Find Your Walk Score: First, do a search to get your Walk Score and map out your neighborhood’s walk/bike to school routes.
- Form a Community Walk Group: Safe Routes suggests forming a community group with families in your neighborhood and working together to begin the process of making transportation without a car a great option.
- Engage Your School: Speak with your child’s school about the possibility of joining a program like Safe Routes to make sure that all aspects of your child’s life support trying a new commute—and reaping the rewards.
- Join International Walk to School Month in October and commit to walk/bike with your child to school throughout the month.
What are ways you are making walking or biking to school a priority? Let us know in the comments.
Photo: Wisconsin Bike Fed
Walk. Stroll. Gallup. The US Department of Health and Human Services has designated the first Friday of April as National Walk to Work Day. American Heart Association and many other national organizations embrace the cause as well, and the American Heart Association created National Walking Day (first Wednesday each April). We at Walk Score whole-heartedly support these efforts. No surprise. Walking is one of the easiest ways to boost your health and prevent physical and mental illness. It’s free and with spring in the air and winter waning, now is the time to walk more. Suggestions for how to easily participate in National Walking Day or National Walk to Work Day:
- Walk to and/or from work.
- Walk to a public transit stop that’s a little further than your normal stop.
- Walk during lunch. Take a picnic and eat at a park. Vitamin D will drown any sorrows and new scenery will refresh your mind.
- Hold a walking meeting instead of conference room gatherings.
- Walk with a friend after work.
- Stand more often while working. Make any phone calls while standing.
Kudos to the US Department of Health and Human Services for creating such a simple and good day in which everyone of any age and ability can participate. The American Heart Association recommends you “ditch your desk” in April to take a 30-minute walk around your office or office neighborhood.
Photo: American Heart Association
Baby boomers are retiring in droves in an unprecedented American demographic shift. The last Baby Boomer turns 65 in 2030, so we still have two decades of an aging chunk of the public. A growing body of research points to the importance of designing or retrofitting communities for walkability to accommodate senior citizens and allow them to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle upon retirement. Walkable neighborhoods help seniors remain active, healthy, social and free to move around. How?
Many retirees choose to age in place—to avoid moving and remain in their homes as long as possible. But since baby boomers were the generation that built suburbia, many will want to maintain a quality of life in unwalkable neighborhoods.
Older adults socialize more when living in walkable neighborhoods. According to the EPA, in an age-friendly walkable neighborhood or town, regular social interaction is possible, convenient and more frequent. The American Journal of Public Health published a study published a study that reveals older people living in walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods have higher levels of social interaction compared with those residing in car-dependent burbs. Living in walkable neighborhoods means you are more likely to know your neighbors, participate in politics, engage socially and even trust people.
2. Transportation + Mobility to Leave the House
Independence builds self-worth and being able to move around your neighborhood is freeing. “More than 20 percent of Americans age 65 or older do not drive. Of those, more than half — about 3.6 million people — stay home on any given day because they have no transportation, AARP says,” from a Washington Post article. Men outlive their “drive-ability” by 7 years, women by 10 years. Public transit becomes key for allowing seniors to remain independent. “A 2002 study by the National Institute on Aging found that about 600,000 people who are 70 or older stop driving every year and become dependent on other forms of transportation.”
A 2003 Brookings Institution study found that 79% of seniors age 65 and older live in car-dependent suburban and rural communities. But older adults increased their use of public transit by 40% between 2001 and 2009. About 15% of those over age 65 use public transit at least once time per month and more than half of them need specialized transportation, according to Placemaking article.
AARP’s report Advancing Mobility Options states, “One of the keys to economic and health security for adults age 50+ is their continued access to a range of viable mobility options within the community. Lack of such options can have a profound impact on how ‘livable’ communities are and have a negative impact on the quality of life enjoyed by older adults in those communities.” Public transportation boosts mobility of seniors. The Street used Walk Score to determine 10 cities where you can retire without having to use a car—around the country from Seattle to Miami.
3. Control Your Own Schedule
Being able to create your own schedule and meet people to socialize, shop when you want or get out of the house means living a life you want in retirement. The less one has to depend on others, the more freedom you can enjoy. The EPA’s Growing Smarter report highlights, “Having the choice to get to downtown shopping or cultural events on our own terms and schedule, rather than waiting for a friend or an on-call van can ensure independent living for much longer.”
Don’t think you have to worry about this? Imagine one day getting a call from your mom who says, “My doctor doesn’t think I should drive.” Fast forward a couple decades later and imagine your own eyesight gets worse, coordination and reflexes stall and you, too, need to find an alternate to a car. All of us will someday find we should no longer be driving and rely on public transportation. Let’s plan for it now for all ages of people.
4. New Trend – Active Seniors Stay Active Longer / Renewed Sense of Purpose
Don Dillon of Pennsylvania, now age 75, picked up the hobby of disk golf six years ago and slowly integrated himself into the sport. His hobby turned into a life goal as he eventually worked to win a Professional Disc Golfing Association world champion title for his age range. Aside from the active nature of the sport, Dillon found a new challenge in life that kept him going, “…a reason to get up in the morning.” He founded and chairs the association’s senior committee to get more retirees into the sport.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey found that only 32.5 percent of Americans over the age of 65 don’t have regular physical activity. That means more seniors than ever desire an active lifestyle and seek opportunities to stay active. Living in a walkable neighborhood gives options for walking right out your front door.
5. Adopt a Walkable, Healthy Lifestyle and Live Longer
People living to 100 years of age are increasing in the US. There were 96,548 centenarians in 2009, up from 38,300 in 1990, according to the Census Bureau. A Swedish study of identical twins separated at birth who grew up apart concluded only about 20 to 30 percent of longevity is determined by genes. Lifestyle is a more dominant ingredient.
Health benefits abound for those who walk, especially for people older than 50. Physical activity may actually add years to your life. Elderly adults who walk are less likely to suffer mental deterioration or dementia, based on a Pittsburgh University study. Walk Score’s Top 10 Health Benefits of Walking are especially valuable to seniors.
6. Urban Planners: Walkable Cities for Seniors = Walkable Cities for All
Cities leading the way in planning for universal walkability for “lifelong communities” and our aging population include New York City, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Portland. Most cities are built for the young and other cities will need to play catch-up. “It’s shocking how far behind we are, especially when you think about this fact – that if you make something age-friendly, that means it is going to be friendly for people of all ages, not just older adults,” said Margaret Neal of Portland State University’s Institute on Aging.
A 2002 survey by AARP Public Policy Institute found that people over age 50 listed lack of walkability part of barriers to walking. “Older adults perceive poor sidewalks, the absence of resting places and dangerous intersections as barriers to walking.” Likewise, a 2007 study in the American Journal of Public Health found areas with higher walkability scores were linked with older residents doing more walking for exercise.
Allen Glicksman, director of research and evaluation at the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, says government programs, such as Medicaid and Medicare, “largely ignore one big part of the health equation: neighborhood.” A walkable environment benefits seniors, keeping mind and body healthy through their surroundings and neighborhood.
7. Economic Impact of Seniors Living in Walkable Places
Auto insurance. Car payments. Mechanics and maintenance. Gas that guzzles your money. Retirement means living on a fixed income for the vast majority of seniors and car-related expenses take a bigger chunk of retirees’ money than for working adults. A car can end up being a large drain on finances.
Living on a fixed income makes owning an automobile challenging and increases the need for affordable alternatives. AAA reports in “Your Driving Costs 2011” that the average annual cost of owning an automobile and driving between 10,000 and 15,000 miles ranges from $7,600 to $8,700. These estimates were based on an average fuel cost of only $2.88 per gallon. Imagine what those costs are today and how they will spiral. See Transportation for America’s report Aging in Place, Stuck without Options: Fixing the Mobility Crisis Threatening the Baby Boomer Generation for more information.
Now what? Prepare for life ahead. What to do when grandma, dad, your sibling or yourself want independence after retirement so you can age in a home comfortably? Choose a walkable neighborhood or city using Walk Score. Find the Transit Score or transportation alternatives (car shares, publis bus, train) near any address.
Check out Assisted Living Source’s Top 100 Walkable Communities where assisted living facilities are listed by their Walk Score.
Pedestrian and walkability fails exist far too often. Clueless saunterers weave slowly along a sidewalk blocking path of more purposeful power-walkers. Umbrellas stretch the length of the sidewalk, threatening to take out an eye unless one uses a stealthy walking defense. Tourist groups clumped together studying maps or gazing around block locals en route to work or appointments.
Rest assured. You are no longer powerless. Now you can hand out pedestrian penalty cards to these sidewalk offenders. Writer and artist team Cory and Andy paired up to sell packs of cards for $1. But careful with your karma. Be judicious with your new policing power. Someday you might find yourself on the receiving end of a walking penalty.
Three of my favorite cards… escalator offender, clue-free umbrella walker, sidewalk bicyclist.
Cards: © Cory and Andy of Pedestrian Penalty Cards
By popular demand, we’ve extended our unique commute time apartment search features to travel planning. Skip opening multiple browsers to research hotels in close proximity to business meetings or vacation attractions. With our new Hotel Search Demo you can now find hotels by travel times (by car, bus, bike or foot) to the people and places you’re visiting.
Location matters when deciding where to stay. Enter up to four places (e.g., business meetings, events, friends’ homes, attractions) and we’ll sort hotels by travel time. For each hotel you can also see nearby amenities (restaurants, coffee shops, etc.), public transit and car shares.
Example #1: Find hotels by travel times to/from the attractions you will be visiting. Here’s a sample hotel search by travel time to and from popular Manhattan art museums.
Example #2: Find accommodations by proximity to meetings. For example, if you have business meetings in Seattle at Walk Score, Amazon, Starbucks and Zillow headquarters, you can find a hotel that minimizes commute time to each location.
Example #3: If you’re planning an event or group trip and have side trips planned to Universal Studios, the zoo and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, for instance, find hotels near those key attractions.
Example #4: Explore the amenities, transit stops and car shares nearby hotels you’re considering. Plan your ground transportation options, save money by eliminating the need for a rental car, and optimize your hotel stay based on nearby amenities.
Conde Nast Traveler created tantalizing tips for travel based on Oscar-inspired destinations. What if we wove walkability into their list? Here’s how Walk Score would rank the Academy’s most walkable Oscar-inspired vacations of 2013. All quotes below are from Conde Nast Traveler.
1. Les Misérables and Amour – Paris, France
“No, you don’t have to dress like a circa-1800s street urchin—or even sing—to become a character from Les Misérables.” Stroll past historical relics, museums, sights and be grateful for a non-miserable vacation in the City of Light. Paris is a Walker’s Paradise, with a heart of 95 Walk Score.
“If there’s one thing that Amour teaches us, it’s that—even if you’ve lived a long, full life—in the end, life is still too short to scrimp on your vacations.” Splurge in Paris, where Amour takes place. Romantic spots abound in Paris, from the Eiffel Tower to the Moulin Rouge show to restaurants and sidewalk cafes in abundance.
2. Silver Linings Playbook – Philadelphia, PA
“Though he’d never own up to it in so many words, Silver Linings Playbook‘s Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) is mostly preoccupied with finding love. Honor his quest in his home city—the City of Brotherly Love….” Check out Philly’s quaint alleys and other walker’s delights. Philadelphia outranks Washington, DC (just barely) with a Walk Score of 74.
“After the obligatory visit to the Lincoln Memorial (which was built long after his assassination), seek out relics from the president’s actual life in Washington.” The National Mall itself is a Walker’s Paradise, with enough culturally enriching museums, monuments (both inside and outside) to warrant a full weekend or week of exploration. A very walkable city in general with a Walk Score of 73.
“Visiting CIA black sites in Islamabad is obviously out of the question. And no, you can’t take a tour of the CIA headquarters in Virginia. But, if you’re an admirer of Zero Dark Thirty‘s Maya (Jessica Chastain), you can visit the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC.”
4. Argo – Los Angeles, CA
“In Argo, CIA agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) creates a cover as a Hollywood producer by strutting around Los Angeles.” Strutting is a cool-cat form of walking, but you must pick your neighborhood visits in LA wisely, as the city on whole has a Walk Score of 66, fairly car-dependent, but walkable depending on your location.
5. Beasts of the Southern Wild – New Orleans, LA
“Beasts of the Southern Wild centers on a fictional Louisiana Bayou community that calls itself ‘The Bathtub.’ And if there’s one thing that the denizens of the Bathtub like to do—for better or for worse—it’s drink.” We all know drinking and driver are big no-nos. Set yourself up in a hotel in a walkable New Orleans area to explore the city. New Orleans’ Walk Score is 56, but the French Quarter is a Walker’s Paradise.
6. Django Unchained – Austin, Texas
“In Django Unchained, Django (Jamie Foxx) makes a scene in a Texas town simply by riding in on a horse. If you want to take a trip to the Lone Star state and show off your own equestrian prowess, head to… Austin.” Horseback ride in the day, walk around to Austin’s music scene at night. Austin’s Walk Score, however, is 45, so plan your trip accordingly.
Photo: Paris Tourist Office