Archive for September 24th, 2008


You may recall this image – a one mile walking circle around us here on Capitol Hill. I wrote about this last February – Valentine’s Day to be exact. I was thinking then that what most urbanists use to define a walkable neighborhood – a quarter mile radius – seemed kind of wimpy to me. A mile only takes 20 minutes for most – though not all – of us, so I advocated, and advocate, raising the bar to a radius of half a mile. Since the next city will be a walking or biking or something else city, and not a car city, it seems like we need to think more seriously about living in urban settings where all of what we need is around us – within a mile.

Placa Reial, in the very walkable city of Barcelona.

Today I scored our neighborhood, rated as one of the most walkable in the nation, using a wonderful website called walkscore. At www.walkscore.com, you can see how your neighborhood performs. (There is also a link on our blogroll, below at the right). We scored an 88 out of 100 – “Very Walkable.” Turns out that the algorithm they use is a one mile radius from the address you type in. I guess I wasn’t ambitious enough.

Capitol Hill, image from flickr.

Now living on Capitol Hill without a car is an eminently achievable – notwithstanding an occasional round of errands with the local Prius Zipcar, as today. This whole city is pretty walkable (only 63% of Washingtonians own a car), but Capitol Hill is a paradigm of walkability.

While I was at it, I thought I would test out a few addresses, and the first I tried was our old place in Lakeview, in Chicago. And surprise of surprises: the old ‘hood scored a 94 – “Walkers’ Paradise.” Harumph.

Lakeview, in Chicago, image from flickr.

Give walkscore a shot – it may open your eyes to new possibilities. And while your at it, fill in the petitiion on their front page, telling Congress to get with walkability. (Hah! The next city is a closed book to these people – they want to give $25 billion to the car guys. Maybe the bailout will table that idea…).

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