Piling On Walk Score

Twitter user WalkFarce is the latest to get in on America’s favorite pastime — pointing out the anecdotal evidence that Walk Score is, at best, imperfect.  The janitor at ESRI could probably tell you that measuring network distance instead of crow’s flight is both easy and better.

Here’s my favorite example — the West Falls Church Metro station. This was chosen because it was the terminus for my hateful weekly trips to take a transportation engineering class at Virginia Tech’s Falls Church campus [preview of future post - causation/correlation that so many transportation engineers studied at schools located in exurbia].  Enough talky talk, let’s have a look!

Hmm. You can probably see where this crow is flying. Those two arrows point to two elementary schools that are 1/2 mile straight-line distance from the Metro station.  “Somewhat Walkable?”

Darren Jr. would not have a 1/2 mile walk from Metro to get to school, but a 1.24 mi walk that includes having to cross over and back across an interstate. Yikes. Maybe I’ll just send him to that other school….?

Good gravy. Would you want your elementary school kid walking along a major state highway, crossing and then walking along a high-speed interstate entrance ramp? No. But wait! Walk Score has had a beta that measures network distance since January 2011, but still has not yet made it to primetime.

What previously scored a 62 (“somewhat walkable”) is now a far more believable 45 (“car-dependent”).  The two elementary schools that previously factored into WFC Metro’s walkability are now completely off the walkshed.

I do not know why it has taken 1.5 years and counting to make this the default calculator. The cynic in me wonders if all those realty partners do not want to see the Walk Scores on their properties plummet. The journalist in me does not exist, and thus has not contacted Walk Score to ask. All I know is, a Walk Score that measures network distance is a FAR better Walk Score.

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2 Responses to Piling On Walk Score

  1. MarcO says:

    Ooh…good stuff. It’s very true. In my book a freeway can be a more insurmountable obstacle than can a river. Straight line distance does not equal accessibility. Preach on!

  2. Pingback: Measuring bikeshare performance — defining “success” | bikepedantic

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