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Walk Score Blog: Archive for the ‘ Walk Score News ’ Category

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

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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.

A Look Back at 2013: More Data for More Places

Number of websites using Walk Score

Number of websites using Walk Score

2013 was another exciting year for Walk Score. We expanded our network to over 30,000 real estate sites across which we’re now delivering over 13 million scores per day for addresses throughout the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Source of the quote

Smart Planet (Nov 2013)

As a team, we continue to be committed to helping renters and home buyers find great places to live because we believe walkable neighborhoods with access to public transit, shorter commutes, and proximity to the people and places you love are the key to a happier, healthier, more sustainable lifestyle.

More Data for More Markets

In 2013, we advanced the breadth, depth and accuracy of our data that is available for any address in the U.S., Canada and Australia as well as at the the neighborhood, zip code and city level. Key milestones include:

Some neighborhoods improved, some declined.

New Street Smart algorithm

  • 2014 ranking of Most Walkable Cities and Neighborhoods and updated Street Smart algorithm.
  • First Walk Score neighborhood and city rankings in Canada and Australia.
  • Transit Score and Bike Score are now available for any address in hundreds of the largest U.S. cities.
  • New Travel Time API including rush hour drive times and map visualizations for web and mobile apps.
  • New ChoiceMaps that make it easier to understand the difference, for example, between very walkable neighborhoods such as our own Capitol Hill where the average resident can walk to 21 restaurants, bars and coffee shops in 5 minutes and Mid-Town Manhattan where it’s 142!
  • New Neighborhood Crime Reports that provide a more accurate view of crime and safety by weighting crimes by severity and normalizing the data by how many people live and work in a neighborhood.

And I’d be remiss if I forgot to thank the thousands of people who help to keep our data up to date every day and who add photos and descriptions of the neighborhood places they love to help others make smart and informed decisions about where to live.

Independent Validation

Having walkability ratings available for any address across the U.S., Canada and Australia is not only great for real estate, it’s great for research and, in 2013, we’re proud to have once again had the opportunity to partner with leading academic researchers studying the financial and health outcomes associated with walkability. A couple recent examples:

LaSalle Investment Management (August 2013)

LaSalle Investment Management (Aug 2013)

  • Just last month, Fannie Mae published a study by University of Arizona Professor, Gary Pivo, showing that “where Walk Score is 80 or more the relative risk of default is 60% lower than where Walk Score is less than 80.”
  • The August edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine included two peer reviewed articles using Walk Score data. We love this video summarizing one of these studies and showcasing how Walk Score data helps make research more efficient.
  • See more research using Walk Score data.

Kudos!

Finally, it’s always nice to be recognized for your work and contributions. So, thank you to GeekWire for nominating Walk Score for App of the Year, to Inman News for once again recognizing our co-founder Matt Lerner as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Real Estate, and to Transportation Choices for naming Walk Score to their Hall of Fame.

Over the past half dozen years we’ve helped to lead the way in educating consumers and the real estate market about the benefits of walkable neighborhoods and, in 2013, we were excited to see demand for walkable places continue to grow and increasing investment from key stakeholders including real estate developers, city governments and the health care community.

Here’s to helping more people find great, walkable places to live in 2014!

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.

 

 

2014 Ranking of Most Walkable Cities & Neighborhoods

most walkable us cities and neighborhoods

Just in time for New Year’s resolutions to live healthier and save money, we’re announcing our 2014 ranking of Most Walkable U.S. Cities and Neighborhoods. Read the official press release.

We hope this new ranking helps people find great places to live that offer a breadth of nearby amenities including food, entertainment, shopping, schools, parks, bike lanes and public transit. Being able to walk out your door and leave your car at home more often is great for your wallet, health and quality of life.

Walk Score Ranking of Largest U.S. Cities

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# 1

New York

Walk Score: 87.6
New York

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# 2

San Francisco

Walk Score: 83.9
San Francisco

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# 3

Boston

Walk Score: 79.5
Boston

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# 4

Philadelphia

Walk Score: 76.5
Philadelphia

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# 5

Miami

Walk Score: 75.6
Miami

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# 6

Chicago

Walk Score: 74.8
New York

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# 7

Washington D.C.

Walk Score: 74.1
San Francisco

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# 8

Seattle

Walk Score: 70.8
Seattle

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# 9

Oakland

Walk Score: 68.5
Oakland

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#10

Baltimore

Walk Score: 66.2
Baltimore

 

Based on our Street Smart Walk Score algorithm and analysis of over 10 million addresses and 2 billion walking routes for 2,500 U.S. cities and more than 10,000 neighborhoods, the 2014 ranking is our most sophisticated to date. Read our 2014 rankings methodology.

Live Healthier, Happier & Save Money in 2014

“The typical American family spends 1/5th of their income on transportation and countless hours are wasted commuting long distances,” said Jeff Speck author, Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time. “Walk Score is leading the way in helping people make smart and informed decisions about where to live. Nothing makes as big of an impact on your health and quality of life as finding a better commute and living in a walkable neighborhood.”

  • Be Healthier: The average resident of a walkable neighborhood weighs eight pounds less than someone who lives in a sprawling neighborhood.
  • Be Happier: People who live in walkable communities are more socially engaged and trusting than those who live in less walkable areas.
  • Save Money: The average American spends over $9,000 per year on their car making cars the second largest expense for most households, costing more than food, clothing and health care.

Find Your Neighborhood Today

To help you get started, we created this list of select Walker’s Paradise neighborhoods where you can live healthier, happier and car-free in 2014. In addition to having a Walk Score of over 90 all of these neighborhoods also offer access to excellent public transit with a Transit Score of 70+.

Learn more about our apartment and rental search and download our updated Apartments and Rentals iPhone App to search for places to live by commute time, access to public transit, Walk Score and your “Gotta Have” amenities.

 

2014 City and Neighborhood Ranking Methodology

Our 2014 ranking is the first time we’ve calculated city and neighborhood scores using our Street Smart Walk Score algorithm.  To calculate the rankings, we scored over 10 million locations and computed over 2 billion walking routes for 2,500 U.S. cities and more than 10,000 neighborhoods.

We’ve made a number of significant improvements to the Walk Score algorithm:

  • Walking routes: Billions of walking routes are quickly calculated using our Travel Time API.
  • Depth of choice: To capture what makes a place truly walkable, we’re analyzing hundreds of nearby amenities for each location to measure depth of choice (see ChoiceMaps for more info).
  • Pedestrian friendliness: We’ve improved our analysis of pedestrian friendliness with better road metrics such as intersection density and average block length.
  • Mixed use: We’re using population data to determine whether a neighborhood is mixed use (residential and commercial) or single use.
  • Improved local data: We’ve continued to improve our local data sources, including over 35,000 additions and removals of places from Walk Score users.
Walk Score Point Grid

Walk Score Point Grid

Ranking Methodology

To rank cities and neighborhoods, we calculate the Walk Score of approximately every city block (technically a grid of latitude and longitude points spaced roughly 500 feet apart).

Each point is weighted by population density so that the rankings reflect where people live and so that neighborhoods and cities do not have lower scores because of parks, bodies of water, etc.

Roosevelt Island: Before and After

Since this is the first city and neighborhood ranking we’ve done with our Street Smart algorithm, here’s a fun island example.  You can see the score decreasing for Roosevelt Island since water barriers prevent residents from accessing nearby Manhattan.

The Walk Score for Roosevelt Island decreases due to water barriers.

The Walk Score for Roosevelt Island decreases due to water barriers.

How Scores Are Changing

Almost all of our city and neighborhood scores have changed — some improved and some declined. The trend line in the graph below shows that neighborhoods with low scores decreased the most. This is likely due to longer routed distances, poor road metrics like intersection density and block length, and a lack of mixed use development.

Neighborhoods with high scores tended to improve a little because our Street Smart algorithm records high depth of choice in categories like restaurants and shopping.

Some neighborhoods improved, some declined.

Some neighborhoods improved, some declined.

A More Complete Picture of Location

With these updates to the Walk Score algorithm, our expansion to over 300 cities with Transit Score and 100+ cities with Bike Score, we’re able to provide a more complete picture of what’s outside the four walls of a home or apartment.

Thanks for your support!

Walk Score Network Grows to Over 30,000 Websites

Thank you to the roughly 10,000 websites that added Walk Score to their customer experience over the past 6 months! That’s ~50% growth since April and ~600% growth over the past 3 years.

As a company founded on the belief that walkable neighborhoods with access to public transit, shorter commutes, and proximity to the people and places you love are the key to a happier, healthier and more sustainable lifestyle, we’re thrilled and honored to see Walk Score so broadly adopted by the real estate industry.

Learn how to add Walk Score to your site and mobile apps today!

Number of websites using Walk Score

Number of websites using Walk Score