When I was a kid in military housing in California I could walk to school, a movie theater, a fast-food place, the commissary and the exchange (basically a grocery store and a department store), an ice cream place, a pool, and multiple playgrounds. In these places there were sidewalks, paths, or roads with large shoulders on which we could walk to reach our destinations in relative safety without taking the car. Once we moved away from California, this changed, and I spent the next 14 years of my life in places where walking not only wasn’t done, it wasn’t safe to do.
For our first decade together, my spouse and I lived in largely not-safe-to-walk areas. Then we moved out West and spent a wonderful eight-plus years living in neighborhoods where we could walk safely and with relative ease to basic locations: grocery stores, cafes, playgrounds, libraries, farmers markets. I fear those years gave us a taste of something we’re going to struggle to find again.
In our current place of residence, we’re back to unsafe walking, and it’s really kind of bugging us. We are about a mile from a strip mall (grocery store, hair cutting place, Starbucks, an office supply store, a gym), two and a half miles from the downtown of our town, and four-and-a-half miles from our church. But to get to any of these places, we have to traverse along narrow sidewalk-less roads that we share with cars driving rather fast and not at all expecting to see a woman in a ridiculous sun hat pushing a stroller with a seven-year-old skipping along behind her.
What we’re wondering is, is how we’re living now the norm? Do most people live in places where they can safely walk to get a gallon of milk or a cup of coffee, or do most people live like we do now, close enough to walk but afraid to do so?
I want to hear from you. Do you live in a place where you could safely walk to get food? If not, does this bother you?
Please let me know in the comments. If you’re so inclined, you could figure out your neighborhood’s Walk Score and share that, too. Our current home scores 35/100. In California, it was 74, and in Utah it was 62-64. Brisbane (in Australia) gets a Walk Score of 100. (No wonder Tucker and Victoria love it so much!)
3 Replies to “Your Walkable Neighborhood”
Great article! We did a full analysis of walkability in our Princeton, NJ area using Walkscore. Central Princeton is very walkable, but for decades most homes have been added in car-dependent areas. We’re trying to turn that round, but many people in Princeton don’t want new homes in walkable areas. If you’re interested in the full analysis, its’ at: http://walkableprinceton.wordpress.com/2013/04/18/walkable-and-car-dependent/
My neighborhood is an 11. The only thing less than a mile away is ‘outdoor places’–the Grafton Trust land that backs up to our neighbors’ lots.
We could walk to the library, pediatrician, school (private Montessori), convenience store, pizza place, and closest Catholic church, (and the farmer’s market in the summer), but those are all 1-3 miles away and there are no sidewalks until you get within 1/4 mile of the Common. Fortunately, the roads aren’t that busy where the sidewalks aren’t, but I’m still not eager to take them on with a 4yo who refuses to ride in a stroller or wagon any more.
When we were looking at houses we were looking for affordable, with enough bedrooms, and not needing any repair work for the first few months and did not pay any attention to walkability. We saw exactly one house that was walkable, and it was falling down…
When we were house-hunting, we thought we were taking walkability into account, but we didn’t factor in the difficulty of walking on streets without sidewalks.
What’s the deal with the lack of sidewalks around here, anyway? I just don’t get it.