This month, the rollout of the wildly popular mobile app Pokémon Go has many municipalities taking note of the positive effects that walking and exploring a neighborhood can have on the community. In light of this new trend, we’ve decided to spend some time researching walkability and how Richmond compares to our peer regions.
To determine how we’re doing, we took a look at our “Walk Score.” Walkscore.com assigns any city (and even any address) a score which falls somewhere on a scale of 1 to 100. The more walkable a location is, the higher the number. The website uses data from Google, OpenStreetMap, and the U.S. Census to determine how easily a person living in that location can run common, daily errands without ever needing to use a car. The result: a simple and easy-to-understand indicator that represents the walkability of a community.
How is Richmond doing?
Compared to our peer regions featured in RVA Snapshot, we’re doing pretty well (with only Hartford, Connecticut outperforming Richmond City), but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for improvement. Our Walk Score of 52 puts us barely into the “somewhat walkable” category, meaning that many people in Richmond still depend on an automobile to run most of their errands.
It will come as no surprise that for 2016, New York City is at the top of the list for most walkable city in the U.S., receiving a Walk Score of 89!
Why does walkability matter?
Walkability is good for the entire community! Communities that encourage walking not only have healthier residents, but some studies have even shown walkable communities to have lower crime rates and stronger housing markets. Richmond is off to a good start, but we’d love to see more places to walk to (and corresponding higher Walk Scores) in the future.