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Walk Score Ranks Chicago's Most Walkable Neighborhoods
by crandell | 07/17/2008
If you've ever wished there were an easier way to figure out which areas of the city are friendliest to those on foot, then you'll be excited about Walk Score's new walkability maps and neighborhood rankings. Walk Score today published rankings for the most walkable cities (Chicago is ranked fourth), as well as the most walkable neighborhoods in each city -- in Chicago: the Loop, Near North Side, Lincoln Park, Lakeview and Uptown. They also have wonderful color-coded walkability maps for each city illustrating which areas are most walkable.
Walk Score's algorithm calculates the walkability of an address based on the density and diversity of nearby amenities. So if you live somewhere with lots of different choices for your daily needs within a few blocks, then your Walk Score will be very high. If you're missing a few things -- say there's no grocery store or library nearby -- then your Walk Score will be lower. While it doesn't factor in things like transit and street design, a shortcoming they're up-front about and explain very well (http://www.walkscore.com/how-it-doesnt-work.shtml), the local amenities in a place are very telling of the habits of the community. It's very unlikely that a place where everyone drives would accidentally get the perfect mix of amenities all within walking distance.
So if you're shopping around for a neighborhood or looking for some new places to explore in the city, the Chicago walkability map is a great place to start: http://www.walkscore.com/rankings/Chicago
I also toyed around with combining the walkability map with the CTA map, so you can see places that are both well-connected with transit and have lots of amenities within walking distance. What's also interesting when combining these maps is how many train stops have little to walk to when you get off the train. These would be great opportunities for the city to target for transit-oriented development. And I was happy to read today that the CTA has already started catching on to the connection between transit and development.
Beyond just building grocery stores at a couple train stops, the CTA should start thinking about how they can make more of their train stops welcoming to pedestrians system-wide. Imagine a Chicago where you could get off at any CTA stop and there would be something to do.