Instead of “What’s your sign?”, you can now size someone up by asking “What’s your walk score?” I’m an 82---“Very Walkable”---according to www.walkscore.com. You can quibble with the methodology and perhaps even accuracy, but have some fun with it. Arlington overall? 67. The County Building? 88. The First Family? 94. Why does it matter whether you are in a “Walker’s Paradise” (90+) or “Car-Dependent” (below 50)? According to Walk Score:
- Weight: The average resident of a walkable neighborhood weighs 6--10 pounds less than someone who lives in a sprawling neighborhood.
- Property value: One point of Walk Score is worth up to $3,000 of value for your property.
- Community: Studies show that for every 10 minutes a person spends in a daily car commute, time spent in community activities falls by 10 percent.
Walk Score says a neighborhood is walkable when it has---
- A center: A main street or a public space.
- People: Enough people for businesses to flourish and for public transit to run frequently.
- Mixed income, mixed use: Affordable housing located near businesses.
- Parks and public space: Plenty of public places to gather and play.
- Pedestrian design: Buildings are close to the street; parking lots are not prominent.
- Schools and workplaces: Close enough that most residents can walk from their homes.
- Complete streets: Streets designed for bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit.
Many of our neighborhoods already rank high on this site and neighborhood plans suggest that others will join them. Let’s hope!