Loose Ends: A town’s walkability

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Dolly Viscardi
Ever hear of a walking score? If you are interested in the walkability of your address, there is a website designed to tell you exactly that information. The site determines the walkability from community amenities such as the banks, post office, restaurants, library, hospital, or the courthouse and is easy and quick.
A fellow freelancer recommended checking this site out recently, so I typed in http://www.walkscore.com to find out that Meeker is “somewhat walkable” from my house with a score of 52 out of 100. As an everyday walker, that low score surprised me. One of the best things about my neighborhood is its accessibility.
All one has to do is type in your address and a map of your community appears on the screen. Numbers and symbols for all of the goods and services available within walking distance appear. A list on the left side of the map indicates which ones are closest, as well as the most distant.
Restaurant listings were ranked in order of distance from my house, with such numbers as .27 or .38. It is a little confusing though, as there are listings for amenities which are much more than a mile away. The Maybell public library came up as the number two listing under Books for my address. It said that it was 34.15 miles away. There were no listings under Parks at all.
Comparing this score to the scores of other communities I realized it is better than average though, as the average is listed as 49. The site also gave me an additional bit of information in noting that 47 percent of walk score users have a higher score than me. It would be interesting to find out all of the statistics involved in ranking walkability. Making sense of a community’s walkability requires current information about the amenities listed on the left, as some of the restaurant names listed are no longer in business. All that indicates is that the site is not updated regularly.
After hearing from some of his regular correspondents, the freelance writer found that quite a few were comfortable with their community’s ranking. One bragged about the high score and noted that living in such a walkable area had made a great difference in quality of life. Another added that working with other municipalities to find ways to make it safe and comfortable to walk was a top priority.
Real life access to amenity providers seems to be more dependent on such issues as safety, rather than distance from residents’ doors. Whether or not one likes to walk is not the question, the real question is, “ Can a community resident get there without climbing over obstacles?” All this walker knows is Meeker is ninety-nine percent walkable.