We all know that life is grand when you can embrace the benefits of a pedestrian lifestyle in an urban locale.
You’ve likely heard of a Walk Score, Bike Score or Transit Score, but do you really know what is being measured? Do you know how this data is collected and synthesized? Here is a breakdown of these metrics.
What is Walk Score?
Walk Score is group of researchers that includes an advisory board of expert urban planners. For their important work, they have received grants from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. They offer a number of different data products, including walk score, transit score and biker score. They use a patented method of calculating how walkable or pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods are, based on the ability to walk, bike or take public transit.
This information isn’t just useful to prospective home buyers hoping to find a location that lets them live their best pedestrian life. The data is generated to help professional groups like urban planners, realtors and scientists.
These data products were created to promote pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods, based on the belief that having the choice to walk, bike or take public transit is good for communities, residents and for the planet. According to the folks at Walk Score, residents that live in a walkable neighbourhood tend to weigh 6-10 pounds less than those that don’t. Shorter commutes mean less stress and the chance to engage more actively with your community. Click here to read “What Are The Real Financial, Emotional And Health Costs Of Commuting?”.
Walk, transit and biker scores are available for any address in Canada, the U.S. and Australia. They can also be generated for larger geographic areas, like postal codes.
Toronto Tops Transit and Walk Lists
Guess what? Toronto ranks the second most walkable city in Canada, with the Bay Street Corridor, Church-Yonge Corridor and Kensington-Chinatown areas offering the most accessibility on foot. And while Toronto is ranked as #1 in Canada for Transit, the city ranks much lower on a national scale for Biking. This probably due, in part, to Toronto's size and inherrant infrastructure. That said, there are most certainly a number of bike-friendly pockets throughout the city. Click here to read my post “On Cycling In The City: Then And Now” or "Cycling The West Toronto Railpath".
How Scores are Calculated
The walk score of a given address (or geographical area) is scored out of 100, based on a number of factors like analyzing multiple walking routes to amenities. Points are awarded on how long it takes to reach amenities on foot. Amenities located within a 5-minute walk are given maximum points, with points subtracted depending on the distance to amenities. For anything beyond a 30 minute walk, no points are awarded. Walk score also takes into account population density, sizes of blocks and intersection density.
Once a score is calculated, it is assigned one of these categories with these criteria:
- 90–100 Walker's Paradise
- Daily errands do not require a car.
- 70–89 Very Walkable
- Most errands can be accomplished on foot.
- 50–69 Somewhat Walkable
- Some amenities within walking distance.
- 25–49 Car-Dependent
- A few amenities within walking distance.
- 0–24 Car-Dependent
- Almost all errands require a car
The Transit Score determines how well a location is serviced by public transit. Transit routes are awarded a “usefulness” score which takes into account things like route, frequency and distance between stops. This criterion is combined for nearby routes and then given a score out of 100.
The score than falls into one of these categories:
- 90–100 Rider's Paradise
- World-class public transportation.
- 70–89 Excellent Transit
- Transit is convenient for most trips.
- 50–69 Good Transit
- Many nearby public transportation options.
- 25–49 Some Transit
- A few nearby public transportation options.
- 0–24 Minimal Transit
- It is possible to get on a bus.
Similarly, the Bike Score is based on a score out of 100. There are four equally weighted components to the calculation of the score, including: bike lanes, hills, destination and road connectivity and the number of bike commuters.
- 90–100 Biker's Paradise
- Daily errands can be accomplished on a bike.
- 70–89 Very Bikeable
- Biking is convenient for most trips.
- 50–69 Bikeable
- Some bike infrastructure.
- 0–49 Somewhat Bikeable
- Minimal bike infrastructure.
Having this data, plus categorizing the results, gives residents concrete details to help determine what locations best match their needs for walkablilty.
Read more about Walk Score and their methodology. https://dailyhive.com/vancouver/best-biking-cities-in-canada
If you haven’t already, consider having excellent walk, bike or transit scores high on your wish list with your house hunt. Being able to access essentials and amenities within minutes is just one more reason why urbanites love living in the city centre, chock-full of hip restaurants, bars, and coffee houses to discover, not to mention a some of the finest shops, boutiques, galleries, and fitness studios! We heart Toronto!
If you're searching for a neighbourhood to suit your lifestyle, check out Urbaneer's Neighbourhood Pages, which have amenity information, statistics and even flavour videos!
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With a multi-disciplinary education in housing - and 27 years experience in the property market - I believe the search for a Home requires engagement on sensory, intellectual and emotional levels. In fact, it's how I've become a top producing realtor.
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Steven Fudge, Sales Representative
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