Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Walk/Bike Neighborhoods

I found a fun mapping site today. Picked up the link at Riding Pretty-Bicycle Chic. (A super fun site of biking goodness, by the way.) The site is Walk Score, and allows you to plug in your home address, a neighborhood in which you might be interested, your office, etc., and find out how high it scores for walkability.

I popped in the address of the park / arts center in my neighborhood, and....
My neighborhood scores a 43 - Car Dependent. There are a lot of stores and restaurants in the 1.5-2.5 mile range, which are outside the walking area, but which are quite reachable by bicycle.

I agree completely with the Car Dependent status though.

The bike lanes, where available, are neither wide enough, nor clearly marked. It's alright for me to ride out to the store, but there's no way I'm taking children out on that 24-inch ribbon at the side of the road. The elementary school is about 2 miles away, but down a narrow and winding 2-lane road, without sidewalks. The car is a safety necessity, even though we could easily walk that distance. In fact, the sidewalks are spotty along the sections of main road we could walk to reach a few restaurants and stores. Along Johnson Ferry, there are stretches with no sidewalks. The sidewalks which do exist are only on one side of the street; and not even on the same side of the street. To make the .8 mile walk to Roswell Road, we'd need to either cross back and forth to stay with available sidewalks and grassy curbs, or walk in the street along the areas without.

I'm not a supporter of government created and controlled roads; I think the private market, or combination public-private solutions would be far better and less expensive than the junk our tax money is purchasing now. But that's a completely different discussion. If the government is going to be in charge of our roads, the least they can do is work for safer transport for all commuters, and not just those in cars. After all, it's part of what we're paying all those fuel taxes, SPLOSTS, and property taxes for, isn't it?

Aside from my gripe about the roads, Walk Score is a pretty darn cool mapping tool. I will probably spend way too much time playing with it over the next couple of days.

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