In search of Regina’s illusive “walkers’ paradise”

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.

Cheers!

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In search of Regina’s illusive “walkers’ paradise”

3 thoughts on “In search of Regina’s illusive “walkers’ paradise”

  1. Barb Saylor says:

    Sherwood Indian Reserve? There’s the RM of Sherwood, and Sakimay as well as other FNs own reserve land at various places on the city’s edge (not all identified on this map). Google may have accidentally combined two proprietory entities; this, plus things like Google’s identification of the Turvey Centre as being in Coronation Park (!) make it necessary to approach their maps with caution.
    By the way, I find Coronation Park very walkable.

  2. I agree Barb – I was once told by Google that a road trip would take 6 hours and it was actually 9. However, I still think that starting to visualize and talk about what makes neighbourhoods walkable is important, and hopefully the tools will improve with time.

    I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on the features that make Coronation Park a walkable neighbourhood.

  3. Barb Saylor says:

    When we bought our house, one reason was that it was on a wide east – west avenue, with good sightlines and liveliness: people were walking, blading, boarding, and biking then, and they still are. We inherited a front deck, but over the years neighbours have been adding decks onto their housefronts, which I think is terrific. The houses mostly date back to the early 1960s, and most have space for nice yards and gardens, and off-street parking. The trees are mature (though I’d’ve rather had ash than elm as the predominant arboreals: elms are weedy and disease-prone), and there are green spaces and playgrounds aplenty. The residential streets and crescents are quiet and very safe for walking the dog, the child, or just oneself; the major thoroughfares have sufficient pedestrian crossings. There are nearby schools and churches, and City Transit is handy. I can shop at the Northgate (not strictly in Coronation Park, but within a short walk), or I could take a bus downtown or up to the Rochdale shopping zone if I wished. Or, for a good constitutional, the Regent Park Safeway is available. (I still don’t know why The Great Canadian Bagel shop in that strip mall couldn’t make a go of it; they got lots of traffic.) I can bus downtown very quickly, and go to the Central Library, or I can easily walk to the Regent Place Branch (again, not strictly in Coronation Park). There are restaurants within an easy hike, both in the neighbourhood and across Albert St. We’re within walking distance of several pubs, should we wish to pub-crawl, and video stores, should we want a quiet evening with a movie.
    People here are very good about keeping the sidewalks clear in winter – MUCH better than south-end neighbourhoods, I find.
    Kids from North Central come here to trick-or-treat on Halloween because we are friendly and it is safe. I love it.
    I loved the Rosemont area when we lived there; it too was eminently walkable.
    I have to tell you that I once tried to fill out a questionnaire put together by Jim Elliott on the desirability of neighbourhoods as measured by distance to amenities, and I had to give up, because I am more of a walker than the questionnaire allowed for. I don’t have to have everything within 3 square blocks.
    Have a merry and peaceful Christmas, and all the best for 2010.

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