Walkable Me

15 August 2008
3:56 PM


When I left Chile several months ago I was sad to say goodbye to my home in a now not-so-foreign land, but I was also ready to return to the U.S. Now, after being home since November, I find myself trying to recover pieces of my life away. After living off two suitcases for two years, I’m into downsizing: if I don’t use it actively or treasure it, it’s time to give it away.

One of the things I miss most about Chile is the ability to walk and take public transportation almost anywhere. People probably arranged the system from necessity. I didn’t have a car, and most of the people I knew didn’t either. I didn’t drive for over two years and as my return date approached, I was itching to get back into the driver’s seat. I realized quickly that I had to be in the driver’s seat, or at least in a car; the area where I live is in Utah is just built for driving. Sure, there’s a supermarket just two miles away, but you have to brave a four-lane road without a sidewalk to get there. In one of those ironic twists, I realized shortly after I got back to my car that I didn’t want it.

In Ogden, Utah I didn’t have much of a choice, but now I do. I just finished moving to Berkeley, California to start grad school in a few weeks. I’m in a small house close to two main streets with restaurants, grocery stores, the public library, a laundromat, the BART, and school all within walking distance. I can come close to duplicating my Chilean experience of missing an ingredient in the kitchen and crossing the street to get it. I also added a new tool to my transportation kit: a Kona Dew Deluxe commuter bike.

Kona Dew Deluxe I should have taken this photo on the road instead of indoors, but I’m waiting for my helmet to arrive so this baby’s parked for now.

How much more walkable is my new home? You might have to content yourself with my qualitative description if it weren’t for Walk Score, a Google Maps mashup that uses a set of criteria to rank the walkability of your home. Here’s my score:

Walk Score for my house in Ogden, Utah: 15 of 100

Using whatever metric Walk Score has in place, my home in Utah scored 15 of 100 on the scale, “Car Dependent.”

Walk Score for my house in Berkeley, California: 91 of 100

My new home scores near the top of the scale at 91 of 100, a “Walkers’ Paradise.” I’m not sure what I need to break into the 95th percentile, but I’m content with 91. What’s your home’s score?

I still have my car for weekend getaways, which is a nice luxury. The rest of the time, I’m taking a page from Frankie Valli’s playbook and walkin’ like a man.


Hey—that’s a fun link. And i was surprised at how “walkable” Grand Raggedy is. It really is, but today getting to the library Google didn’t take into account giant hills and people asking for directions….or maybe that’s where we lost our points.

Take care buddy. Tom

My house got a walk score of 69, “somewhat walkable.” But since my kids and I can walk to work and school, I’d rank it a bit higher.

Chris Sloan

on August 17, 2008 6:06 PM

My house got a “Somewhat Walkable” score of 66, which I pretty much agree with. Although I must say that I truly have the ability to walk across the street for virtually any possible ingredient I could have forgotten. Such is the benefit of living across the street from Safeway.

By the way, the Green Egg Media office has a walkability score of 100, but given its location in Union Square, that isn’t too shocking.

My mom’s house in Bountiful? 25, but that seems way too high in my book.

Nice bike!

My apartment got a 78, which matches my experience so far. Most coffee shops are about a mile away, and the better grocery stores (read: no $7 cereal) are also a mile away. So it’s more bikeable than walkable. But I’m looking forward to stopping for coffee on the way home from school :)

Okay I know this is an old post and I am just reading it now. But, my parents’ house (which is in DC) got a 71 and my new apartment downtown got a 98!!! I can walk to class in 10 mins and there are 4 grocery stores ranging from .5 to .9 mi away. I am also close to 3 different metro lines, although I’m not sure they included that, but it expands my public transportation access if I need to go farther than walking will allow :)