All posts in “environment”

Join Kids Walk to School Movement

Parents walk children to schoolHave you done it yet? Ever? Walking your kids to school has a myriad of benefits for families, their health, the environment and local communities. Kids learn from their parents the value of a feet-first mindset. Who knows? When your kids grow up and commute to work someday, perhaps they’ll recall school morning and/or afternoon walks and opt out of being a daily single-car driver. With fast, nationwide broadband internet spreading across the country these days, maybe they’ll just be walking to a coffee shop to work remotely!

October is International Walk to School Month. Oct. 3, 2012 is Walk to School Day with some neighborhoods creating a “walking school bus” to pick up kids en route to school. Join thousands of parents and kids who take a foot-friendly commute to school this fall. One day can make an impact.

Seattle-area mom, Anne, shares why her family values walking to school and shifting their suburban lifestyle to live more locally and drive less:

“As parents, we all want the very best for our kids. Best education. Best neighborhood. Best community. As moms, we spend a considerable amount of time in the car, running kids to school, to soccer and a host of other activities. Not only does driving around get expensive, but it can also take away precious family time and feel like you are living in the car.

“After spending three years commuting 30 minutes each way to school and activities, our family made a commitment to localize – schools, activities and daily routine – in an effort to drive less. Kids grow quickly and we want to spend quality time connecting face to face with our kids and not looking at them in the rear view mirror.”

Dad finds quality time on walks to school

Ed, a Seattle dad, has walked to school for years: “The daily walk to and from school with my daughter is one of the greatest treasures of being a parent. For 10 or 15 minutes each way, we’re completely free from the day’s distractions of work, homework, chores, music, TV, web–whatever. It’s just the two of us and whatever is on our minds. Quality time of the highest degree.”

Join the movement to get kids walking or biking to school. Why? Safe Routes to School stats show a 20th-century US trend away from kids walking to school.

  • In 1969, 48 % of kids 5 to 14 years of age walked or biked to school
  • In 2009, 13 % of kids 5 to 14 years of age walked or biked to school

Let’s reverse that trend in the 21st century.

Walkable Schools on

In 1969, 42% of children walked or biked to school.

In 2001, 16% of children walked or biked to school1.

During a similar time period childhood obesity increased from 6.5% to 17%2.

These stats are striking: about 2.5 times fewer children walk to school and about 2.5 times more children are obese.

Walk Scores for Schools

Wouldn’t you want your child’s school to be a walkers’ paradise? We’re excited to announce that is now showing Walk Scores for schools!

School Data on Walk Score

We’re also showing’s school data on all Walk Scores in the United States:

We’ll be doing more with walkable schools in the future—and we’re excited about this first step!

Green Homes Flunk Walk Score Test

Here’s a surprising fact about “green” buildings: transportation to a building accounts for twice as much energy as operating the building1.

USA Today reports that only one of the six green-home award winners picked by the U.S. Green Building Council has a Walk Score higher than 50.

Can a home or office really be green if the only way to get there is by car?

Kudos to Kaid Benfield at NRDC for saying it best here:

One result is that the added environmental benefit of the residences’ laudable green features will be offset by the environmental damage caused by the sites’ automobile dependence, poor environment for walking, and relative distance from jobs, shops and services.  Another result is that the public, the building industry, and policy makers will continue to be misled about how best to achieve true environmental performance in our built environment.

Fascinating Transportation Stats: Bicycle and Pedestrian Benchmarking Report

Did you know men are 3X as likely to bike to work as women?

Did you know weather matters less than you think?  Montana and Alaska have some of the coldest temperatures and highest levels of cycling.

What else don’t you know?! The Benchmarking Report from the Alliance for Biking and Walking is the most comprehensive report we’ve seen on bicycling and walking in the U.S.

I love all of the city rankings and state-by-state comparisons. Go Portland!  The #1 city for biking to work.

Must Read: GOOD Magazine Transportation Issue

I’m reading the GOOD Magazine Transportation issue and there’s so much important stuff in it I just can’t tweet all of it.  This issue is a great primer in transportation innovation—go forth and read!

In no particular order…

Great Joseph Sussman Interview: He’s an MIT prof and advisor to DoT.  Love this quote, “Charge cars on a per mile basis, depending on what road you were traveling, at what time of day, in what kind of car.”  He also explains why we’re not investing enough in high-speed rail.

Zach Dundas pines after the coolest bike in the world:

Innovative Buses in Bogotá:

And of course the Walk Score article:

Walk Score in Green Building Guidelines

We’re excited that the Cascadia Region Green Building Council’s Living Building Challenge guidelines now include using Walk Score to aide in site selection. The GBC recommends not building within the 100 year flood plain “unless part of an existing historic community core developed prior to 1945, or a location classified by Walk Score ( with a minimum rating of 70.”

We’ve also had a number of people mention to us that Walk Score might be an easy way to calculate the Community Connectivity credit in the LEED Green Building Rating System.

Growing Cooler Movement


There’s a compelling new book out that makes a strong case for walkable, urban neighborhoods actually being more affordable than their suburban counterparts. Growing Cooler argues that once commute time and transportation costs are taken into account, living in less dense areas can become more expensive than living in dense communities where a car isn’t as necessary to get around.

There’s a great article supporting Growing Cooler’s point, citing evidence that housing values in denser neighborhoods are holding steady or rising. This is in contrast to the steep drop-offs seen in suburban areas outside cities.

This Growing Cooler movement really challenges the old real estate saying, “Drive ’til you qualify”.