Thursday, March 24, 2011
So how do you measure walkability?
LEED for Homes quantifies the distance between a house and its "community resources," like the park next to our home, and local public transit. In our case, we're within a quarter mile of many amenities, like a pharmacy, and a half mile of others, like the public library and city hall (LEED specifies a number of resources within each distance). We have a park, schools, places of worship, offices, stores, a post office and even a hospital within the half-mile orbit of our house.
For our purposes, it is easiest to satisfy our LEED-H community resources/transit credits by demonstrating our proximity to transit. We don't get credit for the local metro station (.07 miles too far from our front door), but we can claim credit for being less than a half-mile walk from three bus lines, providing 182 rides a day. Note that LEED requires us to calculate walking distances, not as-the-crow-flies radii. Luckily, Google Maps now calculates walking distances for us.
Walkscore will calculate your home's "walking score" based on the same kinds of criteria. Our score of 72 rates as "very walkable." Of course, they're still not taking into account our farmers' market...
One other thought about walkability. Our concern has mostly been with the ways the house encourages walking (both ours and our neighbors) for the sake of strengthening our sense of community. But we also recognize that walking has several health benefits. Not only does walking help combat our growing obesity problems, it also may help make neighborhoods more accommodating to an aging population that wants to remain in their homes, even as they transition away from driving.