Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Richardson's Walkability

Richardson's Walk Score Heat Map

Are you thinking of buying a house and care about being able to walk to restaurants, grocery stores, schools, parks and entertainment? The map above is a heat map, with colors indicating walkability (green indicates walkable; red indicates car-dependent).

After the jump, how Richardson fares.

As of 2010, according to WalkScore.com, Richardson as a whole scores a 50, borderline between "Car-Dependent" and "Somewhat Walkable." WalkScore.com's score is based on the distance to amenities in each category. The shorter the distance, the higher the score. The total score is then judged to be in one of five categories:

  • 90-100 points: Walker's Paradise -- Daily errands do not require a car.
  • 70-89 points: Very Walkable -- Most errands can be accomplished on foot.
  • 50-69 points: Somewhat Walkable -- Some amenities within walking distance.
  • 25-49 points: Car-Dependent -- A few amenities within walking distance
  • 0-24 points: Car-Dependent -- Almost all errands require a car

As of 2010, Richardson's overall score is 50. Only 10% of Richardson residents have a WalkScore of 70 or above. East Richardson (ZIP Code 75081) and west Richardson (ZIP Code 75080) have almost identical scores of 56 and 55, respectively, placing them barely into the "Somewhat Walkable" zone. Richardson's panhandle (ZIP Code 85082) rates a 28, "Car Dependent." My own house (in ZIP Code 75081, but close to 75082) rates only a 45, very much "Car Dependent."

How does your address score? More importantly, how can we encourage our older, suburban city to evolve in a way that increases its WalkScore? Most importantly, how can we go beyond WalkScore to true walkability? Just because amenities are within walking distance doesn't mean it's safe to walk to them. For example, the area around Campbell Rd and Central Expressway is a pleasant green in the WalkScore heat map, but I dare anyone to walk across that intersection.

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