All posts in “Walk Score News”

Redfin Unveils the Best U.S. Cities for Public Transit in 2019

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New York, Union City, NJ; and San Francisco claimed the top three spots in the U.S., according to the latest Transit Score® update.

New YorkUnion City, NJ; and San Francisco top the 2019 list of best cities for public transit, looking at cities of all sizes, according to Redfin’s latest Transit Score® ranking. Transit Score, a tool by Redfin company Walk Score®, rates locations based on how convenient they are to public transportation.

In the past, Redfin’s annual Transit Score report typically only examined large cities with a population of 300,000 or more. However this year, Redfin is presenting the raw ranking, unfiltered for population, to show that transit is not reserved only for the largest places.

“Housing affordability has become a nationwide concern, leading people to move away from big, expensive cities to smaller, affordable commuter towns and inland areas,” said Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather. “Small cities that offer the best of both worlds–accessible public transit and relatively affordable homes for sale–are destined for strong growth in the coming years.”

Looking at that full list, the three top spots each had a Transit Score of 80 or better, with New York and its New Jersey suburb of Union City surging above other cities, indicating the local public transit is both conveniently located and runs frequently.

Rank City Transit Score Change (in Transit Score points) from 2018
1 New York, NY 84 -1
2 Union City, NJ 81 0
3 San Francisco, CA 80 0
4 Hoboken, NJ 75 0
5 Cambridge, MA 74 2
6 West New York, NJ 73 0
7 Boston, MA 72 -1
8 Washington, D.C. 71 3
9 Jersey City, NJ 71 0
10 Brookline, MA 69 1
11 Philadelphia, PA 67 0
12 Chicago, IL 65 0
13 Newark, NJ 65 0
14 Silver Spring, MD 64 0
15 Somerville, MA 64 1
16 Bayonne, NJ 62 0
17 Arlington, VA 62 3
18 Santa Monica, CA 62 -1
19 Oak Park, IL 62 0
20. Takoma Park, MD 61 0
21. West Hollywood, CA 61 0
22. Seattle, WA 60 0
23. Beverly Hills, CA 60 0
24. Hyattsville, MD 59 4
25. Florence-Graham, CA 59 -1

New York’s score of 84 is actually down one point from last year–related to hysteria around L-pocalypse, perhaps? New Jersey suburbs popular with commuters also performed well, including top-ranked Union City, as well as HobokenWest New York, and Jersey City all in the top 10, proving whether you live in the Big Apple, or across the river for it, getting around won’t pose a problem.

“The outstanding public transportation options in the greater New York City area make it possible to live a car-free lifestyle, while still benefiting from all the area has to offer,” said New York-based Redfin market manager, Nick Boniakowski. “Whether it’s taking the New York City subway around multiple boroughs, or hopping on the PATH train and ferry to commute across the Hudson river to and from New Jersey, residents have a multitude of options without the hassle and expense of driving. For many buyers, the home search starts with the commute, and these options allow residents to accomplish almost any task with a quick walk and a MetroCard.”

Interestingly, Cambridge outranked Boston, with scores of 74 and 72, respectively. Beantown suburbs Brookline and Somerville both earned top scores too, highlighting the ease of access to public transportation in the Boston metro area.

The Washington, D.C., area demonstrated significant change since last year’s ranking. Our nation’s capital ranked a respectable 8th place overall at 71, but rose three points, more than any other city in the top 25–except for its suburb of Arlington. Arlington also gained three points to hit 62, an increase that could very likely have something to do with Amazon HQ2’s arrival in Crystal City, located in Arlington. Indeed, access to mass transit was listed as a core preference in criteria when Amazon opened up their nationwide search, and there are already plans in place for key transportation infrastructure improvements near the new office campus.

More than half of the top 25 small and large cities remain unchanged from last year, while a few only dipped or increased by one. Those small changes are not for nothing–Redfin found in 2017 that one Transit Score point can increase the price of an average home by more than $2,000.

The results also show that cities in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic tend to rank higher for public transit, with more than half of the top entries found in these regions. The West Coast was close behind with cities from California and Washington, while Chicago and nearby Oak Park were the sole cities ranked highly in the Midwest.

For Transit Score purists, we’ve also compiled the more traditional list, examining just the top 20 cities with a population over 300,000:

Rank City Transit Score Change (in Transit Score points) from 2018
1 New York, NY 84 -1
2 San Francisco, CA 80 0
3 Boston, MA 72 -1
4 Washington, D.C. 71 3
5 Philadelphia, PA 67 0
6 Chicago, IL 65 0
7 Seattle, WA 60 0
8 Baltimore, MD 57 0
9 Miami, FL 57 0
10 Minneapolis, MN 57 -1
11 Honolulu, HI 57 0
12 Oakland, CA 56 0
13 Pittsburgh, PA 56 2
14 Los Angeles, CA 53 2
15 Portland, OR 52 1
16 Long Beach, CA 52 1
17 Milwaukee, WI 48 -1
18 Denver, CO 47 -1
19 Atlanta, GA 47 1
20. Cleveland, OH 45 -2

Several cities were measured for Transit Score this year for the first time. New cities include Daly City, CA (52); Pasadena, CA (51); New Haven, CT (48); South Pasadena, CA (46); Gardena, CA (46); El Monte, CA (46); York, PA (40); Bridgeport, CT (40); San Mateo, CA (40); Harrisburg, PA (39); New Britain, CT (38); Moline, IL (37); Darien, CT (37); Waterbury, CT (34); Akron, OH (32); Oxford, OH (31); Flint, MI (31); Vallejo, CA (31); Pasco, WA (31); Poughkeepsie, NY (30); Longmont, CO (29); Knoxville, TN (28); Richland, WA (28); Omaha, NE (27); Walnut Creek, CA (26); Fairfield, CA (25); Dubuque, IA (25); Vacaville, CA (24); Sioux City, IA (24); Meriden, CT (23); Muscatine, IA (22); Clinton, IA (22); Coralville, IA (21); Hanford, CA (21); Simi Valley, CA (21); Mason City, IA (20); Cedar Rapids, IA (20); Murrieta, CA (20); Cedar Falls, IA (20); Greenville, SC (19); Ocala, FL (19); Fort Dodge, IA (19); Thousand Oaks, CA (17); Lawrenceville, GA (16); Marshalltown, IA (16); Middletown, OH (16); Rocky Mount, NC (16); Temecula, CA (16); Hamilton, OH (13); Burlington, IA (13); Fairfield, OH (6).

Want to know how we determine Transit Score? Here’s more information on our methodology:

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.

To see how your home, neighborhood or city stacks up, search walkscore.com or Redfin.com.

Redfin Unveils the Best Canadian Cities for Public Transit in 2019

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TorontoVancouver and Montreal top the 2019 list of best Canadian cities for public transit, according to Redfin’s newest Transit Score® rankings. Transit Score, a tool by Redfin company Walk Score®, rates locations based on how convenient they are to public transportation.

This is Redfin’s first year ranking transit in Canadian cities. Looking at big cities with populations of over 300,000, Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal took the three top spots with Transit Score ratings of 78, 74, and 67, respectively. Transit Score is calculated based on indicators showing that local public transit is both convenient, and runs frequently.

“Toronto is highly populated and growing all the time. The influx of people from all over the world to Toronto puts a strain on all aspects of transportation in regards to road infrastructure and traffic in and out of the city, which is nothing less than gridlock,” said Blair Anderson, broker of record and market manager for Redfin in Toronto.

“Significant growth requires major transit infrastructure, and the city has recognized that and is investing in transit. The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) operates in the city, and plans to expand the light rail and subway service. GO train, our commuter rail system, is also undergoing a significant expansion, to make it even more accessible to those living farther out,” he said. “Some people moan and complain about public transit, but Toronto’s system is one of the better transit systems in the world. It’s highly ranked, runs well on a timely basis, and doesn’t have many problems. And without it, the city would shut down.”

With a score of 78, Toronto’s Transit Score holds an edge over several large U.S. cities. It ranks higher than Boston’s 72 rating, and falls just shy of San Francisco’s score of 80, earning a comparable place among the largest cities in North America. Vancouver too ranks above the likes of Boston, as well as Washington, D.C. (71). Montreal meanwhile, finds a partner in Philadelphia, with both cities earning a score of 67.

Read on for the full ranking of the top 15 large cities (with populations of more than 300,000) in Canada for public transit in 2019.

Rank City Transit Score
1 Toronto 78
2 Vancouver 74
3 Montréal 67
4 Mississauga 56
5 Brampton 53
6 Winnipeg 51
7 Calgary 50
8 Ottawa 50
9 Edmonton 49
10 Markham 49
11 Québec 47
12 Surrey 47
13 Laval 46
14 Hamilton 45
15 London 45

Want to know how we determine Transit Score? Here’s more information on our methodology:

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.

To see how your home, neighborhood or city stacks up, search walkscore.com or Redfin.ca.

Seattle and Honolulu Move up the Ranks of the Best Cities for Public Transit in 2018

New York, San Francisco and Boston top the list of the 10 best cities for public transit according to the updated Transit Score® rankings by Redfin. Transit Score, a tool by Redfin company Walk Score®, rates locations based on how convenient they are to public transportation. Each of the top three cities has a Transit Score above 70, meaning it has an excellent transit rating, with transit being a convenient option for most trips.

While the rank order for the six best cities for public transit has stayed the same since 2012 when Transit Score first launched, there was a lot of movement at the bottom of the top-10 list.

In 7th place, Seattle has a Transit Score of 59.6, up 2.6 points since 2016, the biggest jump among the top 10. In the past two years, Seattle has expanded its Link light rail service, adding two new stations in 2016, making it easier and faster to get to Capitol Hill and the University of Washington. A 2017 survey by the Seattle Department of Transportation found that public transit use had increased by 48 percent in the past seven years.

“Seattle is not only the coolest city in the country – we are now one of the most transit-friendly cities,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. “For our visitors, commuters and residents, public transit is safe, affordable, and a vital component in making sure our city is accessible to all. With the opening of new light rail stations and one of the highest bus riderships in the country, Seattle is making significant strides towards becoming a world-class transit city.”

Honolulu gained 1.6 points of Transit Score since 2016 and entered the top 10 list for the first time, replacing Miami. More than 69 million passengers in Honolulu ride TheBus annually and the city is planning a new rail system to further improve public transportation.

“Honolulu has been a public transportation city for many years now and the fact that our residents and visitors use TheBus an average of 214,000 trips every weekday is a testament to this fact,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “The new Transit Score ranking announced today by Redfin is proof that the nearly 2,000 workers who keep our bus system running strive for excellence each and every day, and our commitment to a transit system that covers all of O‘ahu will only improve once our rail project begins service along our busiest and most populated corridor.”

Below is a ranking of the top 10 U.S. cities (with populations of more than 300,000) for public transit.

Rank City Transit Score Change from 2016 Previous Rank (2016)
1 New York 85.3 +1.2 1
2 San Francisco 80.4 0 2
3 Boston 72.6 -1.8 3
4 Washington, D.C.  68.5 -2.2 4
5 Philadelphia 66.8 +0.1 5
6 Chicago 65.0 +0.3 6
7 Seattle 59.6 +2.6 10
8 Minneapolis 57.6 0 9
9 Baltimore 57.2 -0.6 8
10 Honolulu 57.2 +1.7 11

Top 5 Biggest Transit Score Increases

Raleigh, NC had the largest Transit Score increase, up 6.3 points from 2016 to 28.9 this year.

Rounding out the top five places with the largest Transit Score increases are Phoenix, AZ (+3.8), Aurora, CO (+3.5), Seattle, WA (+2.6)  and Atlanta, GA (+1.7).

Top 5 Biggest Transit Score Decreases

Washington D.C. had the largest decrease among all major cities in Transit Score, dropping 2.2 points to 68.5 in 2018. The decrease can be attributed to changes in Metrobus and Metrorail scheduling, where some bus routes were discontinued and the frequency of trains during rush hour was lowered.

“Once touted as the gold standard for public transit, D.C.’s Metro is now reckoning with decades of deferred maintenance,” said Redfin Washington D.C. agent John Marcario. “Tough decisions to reduce service and shut down lines for extended periods for repair are causing short-term frustration, but will hopefully make the system better in the long run. Despite the fall in Transit Score, access to transit remains a top priority for D.C. home buyers, who are still willing to pay a premium to live near a metro station.”

Bakersfield, CA (-2.2), Miami FL (-2.2), Boston, MA (-1.8) and Baltimore, MD (-0.6) rounded out the cities with the biggest Transit Score decreases from 2016 to 2018.

New Cities Added

With the addition of 600 new U.S. cities and more than 4,000 new neighborhoods, Transit Score ratings are now available for more than 900 cities and nearly 15,000 neighborhoods on walkscore.com. Among the newly added cities are big ones like Jacksonville, FL (22.4) and Charlotte, NC (27.4), along with smaller cities with Transit Score ratings like Hartford, CT (54.2) and Syracuse, NY (44.1).  

To see how your home, neighborhood or city stacks up, search walkscore.com or Redfin.com.

Methodology

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.

 

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Redfin Presents Opportunity Score at White House Open Data Event

Reposted from Redfin.com.

Today, Redfin joins with the White House to announce Opportunity Score, a data-driven tool based on Walk Score®that will help Americans find housing with easy access to jobs. Watch the Expanding Opportunity with Open Data event here.

We’re excited to participate and talk about Redfin’s Opportunity Score, which we’re designing to help Americans find a house or apartment within a 30-minute commute of work, even for someone who doesn’t own a car.

Today’s event is the culmination of a fast-paced, collaborative hackathon launched by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Participants included developers, data scientists and engineers from the private and non-profit sectors as well as subject-matter experts across a variety of disciplines. Redfin’s Eric Scharnhorst led Opportunity Score’s design based on Walk Score infrastructure.

“We applaud the administration for bringing the technology community to the table to talk about economic mobility in America,” Redfin Chief Economist Nela Richardson said. “We’re hopeful that Opportunity Score and other tools born of this initiative can help people make informed decisions about where they live and give more families the opportunity to thrive.”

Economic mobility isn’t always determined by skill, education or luck. Your ZIP code can play a role, too. Opportunity Score identifies neighborhoods within a 30-minute walk, bike ride or transit trip to employment centers where jobs pay $40,000 a year or more.

The tool includes information about the price of housing. Combining White House opportunity data, Redfin data on home sales and rentals, and mobility data from Walk Score and Transit Score, Opportunity Score can pinpoint housing within easy reach of job centers or opportunities for employment within easy reach of home.

“Affordability is a growing challenge, one we see first hand as a real estate brokerage helping people buy and sell homes,” Richardson said. “But the price of a home or the cost of rent is only part of the equation. People want a home where they can have a reasonable commute to work, participate in the community and access opportunities that can provide a better future for their children.”

Opportunity Score is still in development as we build our prototype to scale. Watch this space for updates or emailpress@redfin.com to learn more.

At Redfin, we’re passionate about harnessing data and embracing technology to educate consumers and make buying and selling a home easier. We measure homebuyer demand, pinpoint the best day to market a home, and predict which houses will sell quickly, information that helps our customers and informs the broader housing market.

Opportunity Score will join our existing arsenal of tools, including Walk Score and Transit Score, to empower the public and help people understand what it’s like to live in a particular neighborhood. Combined, these tools can help people make choices that can have great impact on quality of life and long-term outcomes for their families.

When the government and private sector join forces to harness and mine big data, we can build great things.

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.

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 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: