All posts in “Walk Score News”

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.

While many of the highest ranking cities are prohibitively expensive areas to live, real estate in very walkable places such as Oakland and Baltimore can be very reasonable. Likewise, rentals in Philadelphia are infinitely more affordable than in NYC.

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

Crime Rates in 10 New Cities

In July, we launched Crime Reports for every neighborhood in Seattle, San Francisco, and Chicago

Today we’re expanding to 10 new cities and 1,644 neighborhoods with the addition of:

Crime in Oakland

Downtowns may have more crimes reported,  but may still be safer on a per capita basis.

Walk Score Crime Reports are the first way to accurately compare crime at the neighborhood level.

Other crime maps simply show you where more crimes are reported.  Walk Score provides more accurate statistics by weighting crimes by severity and normalizing the number of crime reports by how many people live and work in a neighborhood. Our crime data is collected directly from police departments.

Walkable neighborhoods with a lot of people may have a larger number of crimes reported, but once you normalize by the number of residents and workers the true story emerges: walkable neighborhoods with “eyes on the street” are often safer on a per capita basis.

Travel Times With Rush Hour Traffic

Today we’re making it easy to add drive times with free flow and rush hour traffic estimates to your website and mobile apps.  Travel times are available for driving, walking, biking, and public transit.

Traffic Congestion

Walk Score was the first website to offer real estate search by commute time.  Since then, adding traffic congestion has been a top feature request.

We’ve developed a new methodology for estimating traffic congestion based on traffic data for over 100 metro areas.  When you click the Rush Hour button on our Travel Time Widget, you’ll see travel times based on peak rush hour congestion. Congestion is computed on a road-by-road basis to reflect where traffic is likely to occur.

Free-flow vs. Rush Hour

Our traffic data is based on an analysis of congestion times from leading traffic providers such as the Federal Highway Administration, Texas A&M Transportation Institute, GoogleINRIX, and TomTom.

How do you define rush hour?  The most useful definition we’ve found is the time it takes to arrive at your destination with a certain level of confidence.  For example, you might have an 80% probability of arriving on time if you allow 25 minutes of drive time or a 90% probability of arriving on time if you allow 35 minutes. This is how leading traffic reports account for the difference between bad traffic and exceptionally bad traffic. Our rush hour drive times are based on an estimated 90% probability of arriving on-time.

Add Travel Time to Your Site

With just a few lines of code you can add the Travel Time Widget pictured below to any Google map. The Travel Time Widget allows home shoppers to explore their commute and visualize travel times in their neighborhood.

Contact us to get an API key for your site.

map-widget

Coming Soon: The 20,000+ sites using the Walk Score Neighborhood Map will also soon have access to rush hour commute time estimates:

Rush Hour Drive Time

Using Walk Score With Responsive Design and Mobile Apps

We’ve  made our Travel Time API, Neighborhood Map, and Walk Score Badges easy to use on responsively designed pages and in mobile apps.

For example, check out Imprev’s implementation of our Travel Time API on their responsive single property website.  Click the Map button in the header to view.

Here are some helpful tips on using Walk Score with responsive design.

responsive-small

 

 

 

Know the Neighborhood

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:

Social Neighborhood Tags

Social Neighborhood Tags for Bellevue, WA

People in the North End of Boston are talking about the Bruins (and oysters)!

Social Neighborhood Tags for the North End, Boston

Social Neighborhood Tags for the North End, Boston

Crime Reports and Maps

Today we’re also launching Crime Reports in Seattle, San Francisco, and Chicago with more cities on the way soon.

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.

Crime Reports for Fremont, Seattle

Crime Reports for Fremont, Seattle

Helping Agents Sell Homes With Midwest Real Estate Data

Years of experience, innovative products, and the regional power of nearly 40,000 real estate professionals combine to make Chicagoland multiple listing service Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED) a force in real estate.

And, as an early adopter of Walk Score data and real estate marketing tools, MRED is helping lead the way toward providing agents and home-shoppers with greater insight into the location of a property, commute times and transportation options.

“Walk Score has fast become the standard for measuring walkability, and the opportunity to provide Walk Score and its other benefits within our MLS system was too good to pass up. We couldn’t be more pleased at the reception Walk Score has received from our brokers, agents and appraisers,” Russ Bergeron, MRED CEO, told Chicago Agent Magazine after launching Walk Score in early 2012.

“We are always on the lookout for information that can be added to our property database to make it even more valuable to our customers and Walk Score is clearly this type of enhancement,” Russ added in a recent interview.

Walk Score on MRED

Walk Score on MRED

MRED’s connectMLS (the top-rated MLS system per the latest WAV Group MLS Technology Survey) includes the Walk Score of every listing (almost 100,000 of them!) and offers agents the ability to search for properties by Walk Score and to sort property search results by Walk Score.

“Not only have we added and made searchable a data field that contains the Walk Score, we also include links to the Walk Score site so our users can take full advantage of all the capabilities of Walk Score – including commute times, public transit information, and nearby points of interest,” Russ continued.

MRED’s Share My Listings widget, which makes it easy for listing agents to post homes for sale to a myriad of social media sites, also incorporates Walk Score. Whenever receiving listing updates from their agents, consumers have a link to the complete set of Walk Score information.

“Having Walk Score incorporated into the listings I send to my clients makes the home search process easier for the buyers,” said Andrea Geller, Broker Associate from Coldwell Banker Residential in Chicago. “They no longer have to go off to a variety of sites to get information about neighborhood amenities surrounding the property. Potential buyers who view listings from MRED’s Share My Listings widget get the same benefit. Walk Score helps me sell my listings faster.

Find out how much you’ll make by selling with Redfin’s home sale proceeds calculator.

Learn more about adding Walk Score data to your site and MLS.

Additional Resources for Buying a Home:

Walk Score and Health Outcomes

Healthy streets, healthy people.

Walking is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to stay healthy.  A study by the University of Utah showed that the average person in a walkable neighborhood weighs 6-10 pounds less than someone in an unwalkable neighborhood1.

We’re seeing a growing body of research using Walk Score data to study the relationship between where people live and health outcomes.

For example, public health departments are using Walk Score data to study the link between sprawl and diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular issues.  One of my favorite research studies involves giving GPS devices to participants to calculate a “personal Walk Score” based on the places a person goes throughout the day.  Cities are using Walk Score ChoiceMaps to measure how many residents can walk to fresh food or parks.

Walk Score and Esri My Place History

Today we’re excited to announce that Walk Score has teamed up with Esri, the leading provider of geospatial analysis tools, to provide healthcare professionals with access to Walk Score data for their patents.

The Esri My Place History tool helps physicians gather data on where patients have lived.  Walk Score data is now available in this tool along with information about nearby toxins and heart attack rates.

Walk Score data is now available in Esri My Place History

Walk Score data in Esri’s My Place History

Bill Davenhall, Head of Health and Human Services at Esri, noted “Walk Score is a new piece of clinical information for health care.  If physicians have  relevant information at the time they see a patient that could support their recommendations, such as ‘get more exercise’, the value of the encounter could be greatly enhanced and  the likelihood of patient compliance much higher.”

This week Matt Lerner and Jason Gruber from Walk Score are at Health Datapalooza in Washington D.C. talking about how Walk Score data can be used by health researchers and healthcare providers.

Walk Score data includes:

  • Walk Score for every location in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand
  • Transit Score based on data from hundreds of public transit agencies
  • Bike Score for 100+ cities in the U.S. and Canada
  • ChoiceMaps that measure access and choice in every city

Learn more about Walk Score data and about Walk Score and health research.

Photo by Urban Advantage.