Grade your once and future home, church with Walk Score

Richard Layman  (Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space) points out a handy resourceWalk Score — which mashes up Google Maps data to give a profile of how walkable an area in the United States is.  This can be very important since reducing or eliminating car use and meat is probably the easiest way to make a substantially good environmental impact.

Walk Score has its limitations but I think it is useful for sorting between the walkability of locales — if you have  a choice — and then you can use the hybrid view within Google Maps, plus local transit sites, to pick out the most walkable neighborhoods. This might be very useful if you’re attending meetings, like General Assembly or district assemblies and don’t want to bring or rent a car. (I’ve been known to call police precincts to get the skinny on where one should or should not walk after dark.)

According to their own scale, anything over 70 is potentially walkable and anything over 90 is prime for car-free living. Where Hubby and I live is a 94 and that seems right.  My old apartment in Georgia — where I sometimes managed without a car (but sore shanks) because it was fragile and unreliable — today rates a 66. Again, seems right.

So US-based readers, how does your address rate?

For what it’s worth, the next General Assembly venue is a 57.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. My address (Bryan, Texas) rated a 12. Does not surprise me. Aside from the elementary school – everything is at least 1.3 miles away. The map claims that there is a grocery store .64 miles away but that is really a convenience store. The real grocery store is further than that. I have seen several people with mobility scooters trucking along the side of the road and a couple of people using bicycles but this is mostly a car town – especially after 6:00 pm and on the weekends.

  2. Fascinating – Looking at relocating to another state for a new ministry. Neighborhood around the church scored 68. My present mid-western college-town neighborhood scored 45 (and I find it rather walkable). Will not be able to live in town my new church would be in (rents are too high). One nearby town scored 66, and the other scored 48.

    This is a great tool, since my partner and I are considering down-sizing to a single car if we can manage this relocation.

  3. I’m not sure how useful the information is. I live in a small town in Maine, which is a highly walkable community. It scored my current address at 55… (I am a 15 minute walk from “downtown”), while scoring a location downtown 98… my address is closer to the supermarket, 2 coffeehouses I like, where I work, and in a very walkable neighborhood with low traffic, sidewalks and lots of trees. Would be nice if we could include where we work in the mix. There are definitely places in my town that aren’t amenable to walkers. But where I live isn’t one of them. Cheers.

  4. My Cambridge neighborhood scored 98, which definitely explains why Mrs P and I don’t want to move. We can walk to three supermarkets (one’s a co-op with a farmer’s market), four pharmacies, three coffeeshops, six Indian restaurants and dozens of other restaurants, two bakeries, two subway stations, the public library, and the laundromat is right around the corner. Harvard Square’s bookstores are only a 20-minute walk away.

    The neighborhood where I lived for four years in Salt Lake City comes up 77; I also lived for one year in a fancier but much more car-dependent neighborhood there, which comes up 55. I haven’t lived outside of a city since early 1990, and I dread the prospect of moving away from my pedestrian life.

  5. My neighborhood comes in at 82, which is about right. But two of the restaurants they list are now out of business, they missed the closest supermarket, some things are listed in the wrong category (the local YMCA is not a school!), and they missed a fantastic used bookstore. So the specific data are of questionable accuracy, but the aggregated score works pretty well.

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