Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Walk Score - Find Services In Your Area!

Walk Score, while not the kind of site I'd usually post about here, seems useful enough to warrant a mention. It was designed to help homebuyers, renters and estate agents find properties in great neighbourhoods but it's also really useful to anyone searching for shops and services in a particular area, especially if you're mobile or just visiting an unfamiliar spot. The site name is also related to the fact that they score properties based on the number of services nearby that you can walk to.

Walk Score
All you do is enter an address and Walk Score shows you a map of what's nearby and calculates a Walk Score for any property. The hook being that buying or renting a house in a walkable neighbourhood is good for your health and also good for the environment. They currently only support addresses in the U.K., U.S.A. and Canada but are working on adding more.

It uses the Google Maps API to display a map of the area, superimposed with icons representing shops, restaurants, cinemas, parks, etc. On the left of that is a list of these services with the relative distance to them. Those distances are measured "as the crow flies" rather than actual walking directions so don't take into account impassible objects like lakes and rivers but they are investigating using Google Driving Directions to calculate the distances.

They freely admit that their walkability scoring system takes no account of factors like topography, public transport, crime figures, traffic safety, etc. It's also dependent on the data available via the Google Maps API so there's always a chance an entry is incorrect or out of date, which is probably why it listed Glasgow as being in England :-(

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