Since it was founded in 2007, Walk Score – an online service that rates the walkability of addresses around the United States – has become a much-used tool for people looking to buy, sell, and rent real estate.
But of course, there's also a certain set of urbanist geeks for whom a high mark is a source of bragging rights, as in, “Dude, my new apartment has a Walk Score of 97!” Not only does the service account for the proximity of shops, restaurants, parks, and similar amenities, it also factors in things like block length and transit access, which can affect the texture and connectedness of a neighborhood. In effect, it quantifies what makes one place less car-dependent than another.
Walk Score recently added a Transit Score to specifically rate transit access in 25 U.S. cities. And today, acknowledging the growing importance of biking as a means of transportation (and perfectly timed for National Bike Month and the various Bike to Work Days being celebrated all over the country this week), they launched a beta version of Bike Score. This fledgling service, developed with grant support and collaboration from the Canadian Institute of Health Research, measures the bike-friendliness of a city by taking a number of factors into account:
Bike Score provides a 0-100 rating of the bikeability of a location based on the availability of bike infrastructure (lanes and trails), the hilliness of the area, amenities and road connectivity, and the number of bike commuters. The Bike Score for a city is then calculated by applying the Bike Score algorithm block-by-block throughout the city and weighting the scores by population density. Cities with scores of 70 or higher are considered to be very bikeable, cities with scores between 50 and 69 are bikeable, and cities with scores below 50 are somewhat bikeable.
So far, the Bike Score feature only rates 10 cities in the United States, with Minneapolis, Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco topping the list.
But that list is going to grow, and you can help determine how. If you'd like to see a Bike Score for your city, visit www.walkscore.com/bike. The top 10 vote-getters between now and May 31 will be added to the service.
Here’s the initial Top 10 Most Bikeable Cities:
1. Minneapolis (Bike Score: 79)
2. Portland (Bike Score: 70)
3. San Francisco (Bike Score: 70)
4. Boston (Bike Score: 68)
5. Madison (Bike Score: 67)
6. Washington, D.C. (Bike Score: 65)
7. Seattle (Bike Score: 64)
8. Tucson (Bike Score: 64)
9. New York (Bike Score: 62)
10. Chicago (Bike Score: 62)
Do you think your town can do better? Go ahead and make the case.
Richard Florida contributed to this post.