All posts in “Walk Score News”

A Look Back and A Look Ahead

We founded Walk Score with the mission of helping people find a walkable place to live. Back in 2007, walkability wasn’t even a real estate buzzword.  Now it’s a mainstream phenomenon. Four in five millennials say they want to live in a place where they have a variety of transportation options to get to jobs, school or daily needs; and three in four say they’ll likely choose to live where they don’t need a car to get around1. We now show more than 20 million Walk Score, Transit Score and Bike Score ratings every day to home and apartment shoppers across a network of more than 30,000 websites and apps.

Smart Planet (Nov 2013)

Smart Planet (Nov. 2013)

Walkability means being near the people and places you love.  It’s about great neighborhoods and having a variety of transportation choices for getting around your city.  It’s about having a shorter or more enjoyable commute.  At Walk Score we’re passionate about walkability.

To further our mission of helping people find a great house or apartment in a neighborhood they love, we’re excited to announce that Walk Score is becoming part of Redfin, the customer-first real estate brokerage.

Advancing the Walk Score Mission

Redfin and Walk Score share a passion for helping people find a great place to live. At Walk Score, we’ve been helping people find apartments for rent by commute time and proximity to public transit and neighborhood amenities since 2011.  Redfin’s mission is to make buying or selling a home better for consumers through technology and its agents across the country. We’re thrilled to be combining our neighborhood insight with Redfin’s world-class home shopping experience and personal service. Together we will be able to help more people make great decisions about where to live.

We’re also excited about what this means for our ongoing commitment to promoting neighborhood walkability. Starting today we now offer 5,000 daily Walk Score API calls for free, a 50X increase from our previous free quota.  This means our data is easier than ever to add to your site and apps.  We are also going to be able to give more data away to researchers and analysts studying the benefits of walkability.

When people visit the Walk Score office, they’re often surprised that there are only 10 of us.  Here’s what we look like:

The Walk Score Team.  We do it for the children.

The Walk Score Team. We do it for the children.

One of the things that excites us about joining a larger company is having access to more data and to data scientists, analysts, and Redfin Chief Economist Nela Richardson.   There’s so much more to do with our data to promote walkability and build on the leadership of great researchers like Joe Cortright, Gary Pivo, Chris Leinberger, and our amazing Advisory Board whose work has demonstrated the economic and social power of walkable neighborhoods.

If you have any questions about this news, just Tweet @walkscore or send us a note.

Thank you for your support as we enter the next chapter!

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.  If you want to get your Crime Grade right away, just tweet @walkscore with your address and we’ll send you a link to your Crime Grade.

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.

 

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!

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.

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!