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Great Scores Make Great Cities

Walkable neighborhoods with access to public transit, housing, amenities and parks and open spaces are the key to a happier and healthier lifestyle and make great places to live.  How does your neighborhood measure up?  Maybe it’s time to find out.

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Many of you may have heard of Walk Score but did you also know about Transit Score, Bike Score and Park Score?   Walk Score, Transit Score and Bike Score are all calculated by WalkScore.com while ParkScore® is a project of The Trust for Public Land, the nation’s largest national nonprofit organization working to create and improve neighborhood parks

Walk Score

Walk Score measures the walkability of any address using a patented system. For each address, Walk Score analyzes hundreds of walking routes to nearby amenities. Points are awarded based on the distance to amenities in each category. Amenities within a 5 minute walk (.25 miles) are given maximum points. A decay function is used to give points to more distant amenities, with no points given after a 30 minute walk.

Walk Score also measures pedestrian friendliness by analyzing population density and road metrics such as block length and intersection density. Data sources include Google, Education.com, Open Street Map, the U.S. Census, Localeze, and places added by the Walk Score user community.

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Walk Score has ranked the largest 3,000 cities and over 10,000 neighborhoods.  Their ratings show that the 141 cities with a population of 200,000 or greater have an average Walk Score of 49 which puts them right below somewhat walkable.

The top five U.S. cities with the highest Walk Scores are:

  • New York
  • San Francisco
  • Boston
  • Miami
  • Philadelphia

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You can look up your city’s or neighborhood’s Walk Score. You can also join over 30,000 sites that show Walk Score for real estate, travel, planning, and more. Add the Walk Score Widget to your site in minutes with the copy and paste HTML code. The Walk Score Widget is free to use, just sign up to get the code.

Transit Score

Transit Score is a patented measure of how well a location is served by public transit. Transit Score is based on data released in a standard format by public transit agencies.

Transit Scores are calculated by assigning a “usefulness” value to nearby transit routes based on the frequency, type of route (rail, bus, etc.), and distance to the nearest stop on the route. The “usefulness” of all nearby routes is summed and normalized to a score between 0 – 100.

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The top five U.S. cities with the highest Transit Scores are:

  • New York
  • San Francisco
  • Boston
  • Washington, DC
  • Philadelphia

Bike Score

Bike Score measures whether an area is good for biking. For a given location, a Bike Score is calculated by measuring bike infrastructure (lanes, trails, etc.), hills, destinations and road connectivity, and the number of bike commuters.

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These component scores are based on data from city governments, the USGS, OpenStreetMap, and the U.S. Census.

Bike Score measures whether a location is good for biking on a scale from 0 – 100 based on four equally weighted components:

  • Bike lanes
  • Hills
  • Destinations and road connectivity
  • Bike commuting mode share

The goal of Bike Score is to provide an easy way to evaluate bikeability at a specific location. Bike Score can be used by people looking for a bikeable place to live or urban planners looking to do research on bikeability.

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The top five U.S. cities with the highest Bike Scores are:

  • Minneapolis
  • San Francisco
  • Portland
  • Denver
  • Boston

San Francisco shows it’s a great place to live as it scores big on all three scores.

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ParkScore®

The Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore® index is the most comprehensive rating system ever developed to measure how well the 100 largest U.S. cities are meeting the need for parks.

Using an advanced GIS (Geographic Information System), ParkScore® provides in-depth data to guide local park improvement efforts. Their mapping technology identifies which neighborhoods and demographics are underserved by parks and how many people are able to reach a park within a ten-minute walk.

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Each city is given a rating of one to five park benches. One bench means the park system needs major improvement, while five benches means the park system is outstanding.

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In a national sample, the percentage of the population living within a ten-minute walk of a public park ranges from 27 percent to 100 percent, with a median of 66 percent.

The top five U.S. cities with the highest ParkScores® are:

  • Minneapolis
  • St. Paul
  • San Francisco
  • Washington, DC
  • Portland

So how does your neighborhood rate?  If it’s not quite up to par, it may be time to make some changes.

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