Walkscore Rates the Most Walkable Cities In America. Is It A Useful Metric?

Yesterday I wrote about a mom who was convicted of vehicular homicide after her son was killed by a drunk hit-and-run, because she crossed the street from a bus stop without walking almost half a mile to the traffic light. Today Walkscore has released its list of America's most walkable cities and I wondered what the walkscore of poor Raquel Nelson's home is, where this accident happened. It is an astonishingly low 20, in Marietta, Georgia which has a walkscore of 45.

Walkscore is an incredibly powerful tool that shines a light on the tragedy of planning and urban design in North America; that poor people are forced to live in areas with no books, no shopping, no entertainment, no banking. And as Raquel Nelson demonstrated, no traffic lights.

It's nice to know that the ten most walkable cities are 1) New York, 2) San Francisco, 3) Boston, 4)Chicago, 5) Philadelphia, 6) Seattle, 7) Washington, D.C., 8) Miami, 9) Minneapolis, and 10) Oakland. And it is true, as Walkscore CEO Josh Herst says in the press release, that

With rising gas prices, Americans are looking for alternatives to long commutes and driving around town to complete their errands," said Walk Score CEO Josh Herst. "America's most walkable cities and neighborhoods make it easy for residents to leave their cars at home more often. The latest real estate trends show that homes and apartments in walkable areas are in higher demand and are worth more than their less-walkable counterparts.

But the real value of Walkscore is at the macro scale, where you can see instantly what causes tragedies like the death of Raquel Nelson's son. The planners and politicians who create environments where people without cars have to live in communities with a walkscore of 20 are the real criminals.

More at Walkscore.

2008 version: Walk Score Ranks The Top 10 Most Walkable Cities in the U.S.
LEED Home Award Winners are Walkscore FAIL

Tags: Atlanta | Urban Planning