Walkscore is a pretty nifty website that calculates how “walkable” your neighborhood is. On a scale of 0 to 100, I come out as an 88 – not really a surprise, given that we are in the middle of New York City (my office gets a 100, but most of the places I could walk to from there aren’t worth the trip). The 88 means that just about everything I need is within 7/10 of a mile of my house. Six or seven years ago, this would not have been the case – there was not a restaurant next door, a bar two blocks away, a bookstore within four blocks or a pharmacy within 10 blocks. It was still a walkable neighborhood, you just had to be a little more ambitious.
There are a few idiosyncrasies about the site (which is intended as a real estate marketing tool). For instance, the nearest movie theater to my house is the Riverside Dance Festival in East River Park, Manhattan. In fact, all of the “nearby” theaters are in Manhattan. Fair enough, but the site lists the walking distance for Riverside as 6/10 of a mile, which I’m pretty sure would require walking on water to be true. I took the bridge, it would be easily twice that distance. Also, some of the locations are just plain wrong – the site tells me that the nearest pharmacy is a Rite Aid on Metropolitan and Kent. (Its really referring to a Rite Aid on Metropolitan in Ridgewood, but for some reason.)
Strangest of all, though, is that the “walkability” score takes no account of public transportation. There are two bus lines within three blocks of me, and two subway lines within about 10 blocks, giving me walking access to all of New York City. Yet nowhere is public transit mentioned.