What is your definition of walkability?

So a while ago, some scientists with a computer program and a bunch of (very flat) metro maps have decreed that San Francisco is the nation’s most walkable city. Clearly, these guys don’t understand our topography.

Walkscore.com, used an algorithm to identify those neighborhoods boasting the most amenities per person. San Francisco scored the highest overall with a ‘walkability’ score of 86 out of 100.

According to the site, a walkable neighborhood has:

  • A discernible center, whether it’s a shopping district, a main street, or a public space.
  • Higher density – for local businesses to flourish and for public transportation to run frequently.
  • Mixed housing for young and old, singles and families, rich and poor.
  • Businesses and residences located near each other.
  • Parks and public space
  • Buildings placed close to the street to cater to foot traffic, with parking lots relegated to the back.
  • Schools and workplaces close enough that most residents can walk from their homes.

On the page featuring San Francisco, Walkscore rates neighborhoods within the City. Chinatown gets the highest score of 99. Lakeshore gets the lowest with 66. Within this range the rankings get a little screwy– I’m mystified why SOMA ranks above Noe Valley and wonder where Walkscore thinks people living downtown go grocery shopping.

Walkscore’s ultimate goal is to see their site’s scores included in a property’s listing information. Says Mike Mathieu, the site’s founder: “What we see is someone calling up a broker and saying ‘I want three bedrooms, two baths, a walkability score of 85, what’ve you got?’”

I think my answer would be: “Can we start this conversation over?”

Dreaming of San Francisco? Cece Blase offers local advice to San Francisco buyers, sellers and owners– and feeds the dreams of those who wish they could live in Tony Bennett’s ‘City by the Bay.’ Call 415-577-0809 or email cblase@paragon-re.com. www.ceceblase.com