Doctors, urban planners and realtors agree that the more walkable your neighborhood is the better off you are. Doctors believe you are healthier. Urban planners believe your neighborhood is more desirable. Realtors believe your home is worth more.
So, how do you determine how walkable your neighborhood is? One way is to go to walkscore.com. Here’s their philosophy: “We believe that walkable neighborhoods with access to public transit, better commutes, and proximity to the people and places you love are the key to a happier, healthier and more sustainable lifestyle.” Their analysis is based on a host of factors, including transit, restaurants, shopping, parks or green space and other amenities.
For fun, I ran my address (1631 S. Michigan) and some addresses of my friends in the South Loop. Here’s what I discovered:
I live in a Walker’s Paradise, with a score of 98. Addresses around me ranged from Very Walkable (the lowest I could find was a 75) to Walker’s Paradise (100).
What that means is:
Daily errands do not require a car.
Most errands can be accomplished on foot.
Some errands can be accomplished on foot.
Most errands require a car.
Almost all errands require a car.
Here are the addresses I checked and their scores:
1631 S. Michigan and 1327 S. Wabash–98
1528 S. Wabash and 910 S. Michigan–94
1919 S. Michigan — 86
1620 S. Prairie — 95
1515 S. State and 1143 S. Plymouth — 97
800 S. Clark and 2 E. State — 100
1700 S. Clark — 88
2046 S. Michigan — 82
1900 S. Clark — 80
212 E. Cullerton – 83
2345 S. Michigan and 600 W. 18th — 75
If I’m doing my ‘regular’ errands, my plan is often to ride a bus or the el from work in the loop to Roosevelt (in our too brief summer, I often walk all the way home, or catch a Divvy bike), then stop along the way home for drug store stuff at Well Future Pharmacy, groceries at Trader Joe’s, Jewell or Mariano’s, and dinner along the way home—dozens of choices between Roosevelt and 16th. If it’s a weekend, I walk over to Overflow Coffee to get my caffeine addiction whetted and on to Mariano’s for the weekend shop. I drop off/pick up dry cleaning along the way and stop at Nail Social for my mani/pedi and eyebrow threading on the way home. When I am watching my brother’s dog I can take him to the outdoor cafes at WeatherMark Tavern or Square One or for our morning coffee at Overflow. When my cousin from Wisconsin was in last weekend, we had lunch at WeatherMark, caught the 12 bus up to the Whole Foods/DSW/World Market mall and strolled back through Roosevelt Collection, ending with dinner at City Tavern. I was laughing with a friend who lives in Evanston last week that I hadn’t had my car out of the garage in over 2 months, but I confess to taking it yesterday to the recycling bins on Clark and 17th and Home Depot/Petsmart (that darn cat eats a lot more food than I want to carry home).
And we’re not even getting into the quick access to the lake front—from Soldier Field, the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium, to Burnham Harbor, Northerly Island and the 12th street beach —all a short walk over the 11th or 18th street ped bridges.
One of GSLA’s goals is to make each block of our neighborhood more walkable. That’s why we encourage developers to build buildings with pedestrian friendly street levels, landscaping and no unnecessary curb cuts or obstacles. It’s one of the motivating factors behind our newly developed Sidewalk Steward program, in which we will reward the businesses and residents in the neighborhood who maintain their public ways well and beautify our streets.