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Kaid Benfield’s Blog

Walk Score incorporates transit, real estate industry takes note

Kaid Benfield

Posted November 6, 2009 in Green Enterprise, Living Sustainably

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  my neighborhood in DC rates an 80 (by: WalkScore)

  NRDC's DC neighborhood is a "walker's paradise" (by: WalkScore)

Walk Score keeps getting better, and it was already very good.  With assistance from the Rockefeller Foundation, the locational rating system has now incorporated transit service data from 40 metro regions into its service, so that its maps reflect this key measure of urbanity.  In the past, this had been one of the few large deficiencies in the system, which rates the "walkability" of any given address in the country, as measured by its proximity to a range of neighborhood assets like parks, schools, and shops.

The service is working on incorporating the transit data into its scoring system, so that locations with better transit access will receive higher scores.

The two maps above show, at the top, my residential neighborhood in northwest DC, which has a "very walkable" rating of 80 out of 100 points.  The lower one shows NRDC's downtown DC neighborhood, a "walker's paradise" scoring 98.  In both cases you can see the location of nearby services and amenities; I've circled the transit stops in red.

Trace Lofts markets with Walk Score (by: Trace Lofts)It is extremely encouraging that Walk Score is fast becoming a staple of the real estate industry, with the system helpfully supplying a "real estate tile" that can be incorporated into sellers' websites.  As a result, according to Thursday's post on Walk Score's official blog, "ZipRealty, LPS Real Estate Group (formerly FNRES and Cyberhomes), Windermere, San Francisco Chronicle, and hundreds of other real estate sites that use the Walk Score Real Estate Tile are now showing nearby public transit powered by Walk Score."

The post continues:

"Not only is transit a key component of the car-lite lifestyle, but homes near transit may be better investments.

"In Denver, homes within 1/2 mile of light rail appreciated more than 17% while the overall Denver housing market fell more than 7%.  Colorado residents can see transit powered by Walk Score on ColoProperty and REcolorado."

"Accessible public transit plays a significant role in the decision making process for many home buyers," said Patrick Lashinsky, CEO and President of ZipRealty, which operates in 36 major markets, in a press release. "This added feature from Walk Score makes it easier for our clients to make an informed decision from the start of the search."

Kaid Benfield writes (almost) daily about community, development, and the environment.  For more posts, see his blog's home page. 

 

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Comments

Nick BastianNov 6 2009 07:25 PM

I absolutely LOVE the fact that they are incorporating transit into the Walkscore equation. Unfortunately, it isn't available in our market, yet.
The tool is a great help but will be much more accurate and valuable ( in my opinion ) once we have transit added. In Phoenix, there is finally a growing desire to live near public transportation. For a city known for sprawl, strides are being made! :-)

Billy RiggsNov 10 2009 10:07 PM

Despite the positive jump for walkscore.com, the addition still doesn't address a principle flaw of the website - traits of the walkers. By that I mean, it doesn't account for the needs of the elderly or the young, which are very different from young professionals or middle-ages urbanites. The literature shows that elderly individuals are more actually less active in urban environments with high connectivity than rural or suburban because of perceived risk and pain management issues associated with starting and stopping every block. Some of my recent research at UC Berkeley indicates that both are high-risk populations that may need integration of things like crime statistics, vehicular speed, collision risk, etc.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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