I love mapping things… there, I said it.
I use Google Maps all the time to map patterns, think about questions in different ways, etc. So it isn’t too surprising that when I heard about WalkScore (via World Changing), the first thing I did was start mapping. At it’s core, “Walk Score calculates the walkability of an address based on the distance from the house to nearby amenities. ” (WalkScore Website). WalkScore ranks locations into five categories:
0-24 (Car Dependant – diving only)
25-49 (Car Dependant)
50-69 (Somewhat Walkable)
70-89 (Very Walkable)
90-100 (Walkers’ Paradise)
The algorithm is not perfect and the WalkScore team acknowledges that, and are trying to improve it all the time. Some of the issues include: that the algorithm measures the distance to ammenities as the crow flies (not actual walking distances), does not take into account whether or not the neighbourhood is actually pedestrian friendly (large sidewalks, store frontage), weather, etc. However, the program is a first stab at a very user-friendly method to track neighbourhood walkability. Some real estate companies even include a WalkScore calculator on their websites because for some people, walkability in a potential neighbourhood is a considerable asset.
Knowing that this program is not perfect, I still could not wait to map walkability in Regina. At the time I first heard about the program, I was living in Montreal and relished in how walkable that city is. Walking really is the ideal mode of transportation there (supplemented by the metro and bus system). And although I knew that Regina had some walkable neighbourhoods, for the most part it has always seemed rather car-centric to me. With that in mind, I wanted to map out the city using WalkScore to see if what I thought matched what existed.
Along with that, I wanted to see if “Walkers’ Paradise” existed in Regina. The short answer is, no. In fact, I have yet to find a location with a WalkScore over 85! Now, again, the program is not perfect so some of those numbers might technically be higher, but still. It is not too surprising to see that the centre of the city is more walkable than the suburbs, but I think some more work in the Whitmore Park area could prove interesting.
See the map below:
It is pretty cool that there exists a widely accessible tool that allows people to start to maping and talking about walkability. It provides a great springboard to start discussion on how to start getting neighbourhoods that are currently “car dependant-driving only” into ones that are at least “somewhat walkable”.
If you are interested in contributing to the map and trying to find Regina’s “walkers’ paradise”, leave a comment below with an address, and the WalkScore calculation (which you can do at the website). I will continue adding to the map and update you in time.