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walkability
This indicator is measured by
  • District's Walk Score
Walk Score Legend
Walk Score's Most Walkable Cities in 2012
  1. New York: 85.3
  2. San Francisco: 84.9
  3. Boston: 79.2
  4. Chicago: 74.3
  5. Philadelphia: 74.1
  6. Seattle: 73.7
  7. Washington, DC: 73.2
  8. Miami: 72.5
  9. Minneapolis: 69.3
  10. Oakland: 68.2
Source: Walk Score
Dupont Market
The Sunday Market in Dupont Circle is in one of D.C.'s most walkable neighborhoods. Photo credit: AgnosticPreachersKid, via Wikipedia Commons
With its extensive public transportation system, widespread network of sidewalks and paths, and many of the country’s finest cultural institutions easily accessible by foot, it’s no surprise that people love to walk around the District. However, measuring walkability—how easy it is to travel and access goods and services by foot—can be difficult given the varied factors that go into such a metric. Fortunately, Walk Score is attempting to do just that. Walk Score is an algorithm that awards points based on the distance from a defined area to neighborhood amenities such as schools, banks, and restaurants.  An area with a score of zero lacks infrastructure and convenience for walking, while a score of 100 suggests that residents can walk with ease to nearly anything they might require. Though 55% of District residents have a Walk Score of at least 70 in their living areas, there is a great deal of variation between the District’s most walkable and least walkable areas. 

So, what exactly makes a neighborhood “walkable”? According to Walk Score designers, the number of parks and public spaces, high enough density to sustain public transportation and business, and adequate affordable housing are important factors. Streets should be designed to support pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit simultaneously. It is easy to walk to school or one’s workplace in a walkable area. 

In 2008, the District had the seventh highest Walk Score in the country. As the District implements plans to lower its carbon footprint, residents’ selection of walking as a mode of transportation will be critical to meeting our aggressive goals. In addition to lowering residents’ carbon footprints, walking provides many other benefits. Walking improves the health of the environment around us while boosting residents’ physical health at the same time. Residents of walkable neighborhoods weigh seven pounds less on average than those in car-dependent areas. What these residents shed in pounds, they may gain in dollars; one Walk Score point can be worth up to $3,000 of a property’s value. Those who walk as a primary mode of transportation can also pocket the cash that others spend on car maintenance, fuel, and public transit. 


Columbia Heights Fountain
The fountain at the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza is a short walk from the metro. Photo credit: District Department of Transportation
How is the indicator defined? How often updated?

This indicator is measured by the District’s Walk Score. Walk Score is based on how easily you can live a car-free lifestyle, not on the aesthetic beauty of walking around the location.  The score is determined by analyzing distance to amenities and pedestrian friendliness. Amenities are broken up into nine different categories, each holding a different weight according to its importance. Points are awarded based on distance to each of the amenities. If the amenity is closer than .25 miles it receives the highest points, while amenities over a mile receive no points. Length of blocks and intersection density are also taken into account. Additional information on exactly how Walk Score is calculated can be found here. It is updated on an annual basis. 

What influences this indicator?

Walk Score takes into account the walking distance from one location to the closest amenities of nine different categories such as restaurants, shopping, coffee shops, banks, parks, schools, bookstores, and entertainment. Distance to a location, the number of locations for a particular amenity, and the weights assigned to each type of establishment affect the Walk Score. 

What you can do to help:

  • Take advantage of the walkable areas around you. Use a combination of walking and public transportation to get to work or school and while running errands. Set a goal to walk to work once a week—you’ll be amazed at how easy it can be!
  • Encourage friends and neighbors to walk to nearby areas of interest together. Start a walking group for fun, or meet up with others to walk to work together. 

Related indicators: Capital Bikeshare, Air Quality, Cars, Transit 

Links to related programs 

Washington, D.C.’s Walk Score   

Walk Score Website 

Other Links 

Walk Score Smart Phone Mobile Amenity Map  

“New Study Shows One Point of Walk Score Worth Up to $3,000” 

Show Off the Walk Score of Any Area with an Electronic Walk Score Badge  

2008 Walk Score Countrywide Ratings  

Walk Score Methodology  

Walk Score’s Facebook Page  

Walk Score Video, “The Greatest Threat to Our Planet is…” 

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