Forget Walkscore. Determine What is Walkable for You.

summerside

I have never owned a car and can’t imagine that I ever will.  It began as a way to save money, but despite the fact that people told me I couldn’t have kids if I didn’t have a car or that our lives would be miserable, we’ve done very well without one.

My current home has been assessed by Walkscore as having a score of 43 which falls into the “car dependent” category and apparently “most errands require a car.”  By whose standard?  How far is too far to walk somewhere? I have lived here quite happily for almost thirteen years without a car.  I can walk to the library, a store to buy milk, even my doctor’s office if I’m not too ill.  I did wish that we lived closer to a grocery store, but that was the only thing I longed for and it was easy to get to one by bicycle or public transit.

My new address has a walkscore of 56 which is deemed “somewhat walkable” and “some errands can be accomplished on foot.” I can’t imagine what can’t be done on foot since everything in this well-serviced city is within a half-hour walk from my house.  There are three grocery stores, a library, two pharmacies, a hospital, two walk-in clinics, two of my favourite clothing stores, a movie theatre, a live theatre, a beautiful waterfront, a quaint downtown area, cute little museums, city hall, parks, trails, a recreation centre, banks, a post office, a veterinarian. I have so many friends who live close by. It does not have a lot of great restaurants, but that’s okay…especially when I am living a simpler life.

How on earth is that not fully walkable?

I’m sure that for many people Walkscore is handy.  But it is ridiculous to allow some website to determine what is walkable for individuals.  This was how they determined walkability: “Amenities within a 5 minute walk (.25 miles) are given maximum points. A decay function is used to give points to more distant amenities, with no points given after a 30 minute walk.” So, a healthy thirty-minute walk is not considered walkable.  What bullshit for most reasonably healthy people.  Most people should walk more, not less.

1 King Street West in Toronto has been given a Walkscore of 100.  And yet, I would absolutely hate to live there.  It’s expensive, noisy, and ugly.

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