Thursday, July 17, 2008

Walkable cities has put together a nice site that evaluates the 'walkability' of cities. You type in an address, and it pulls up all the nearest amenities to determine how walkable a city is. The results seem about in line with I would give the various communities where I have lived.

The algorithm itself seemed somewhat susceptible to error. (It based the results on a google local search - which is prone to outdated, misclassified, or otherwise invalid listings. It also uses 'as the crow flies' distances, which don't account for whether you could really walk there or not. And a simplistic point system that awards points for a close amenity in a category without judging its usefulness to an individual could be susceptible. However, in spite of this the numbers still seemed about right.

It would be nice to add to it. Perhaps a personalized feature, where you could select features that really are important, and possible veto some results that come in. (If you have kids you care about a close elementary school, not a college.) Also, a walkable community close to work may trump some other features. And of course, it would be nice to actually look at the real conditions (such as sidewalks, weather, or even census information about car ownership and use)

Overall, it is a great tool that is helpful in evaluating potential good places to live.

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