‘Walk Score’ Is Great, But it Still Doesn’t Capture ‘Walk Appeal’

BY SARAH GOODYEAR, THE ATLANTIC CITIES.COM

Walk Score is a terrific tool, as far as it goes. But we need other ways of quantifying walkability on our nation’s streets. The architect and urbanist Steve Mouzon is working on just such a measurement. He calls it Walk Appeal, and the idea behind it is something that we all know but don’t often acknowledge: A mile in an American suburb is a lot longer than a mile in Rome.

Walk Appeal promises to be a major new tool for understanding and building walkable places, and it explains several things that were heretofore either contradictory or mysterious. It begins with the assertion that the quarter-mile radius (or 5-minute walk,) which has been held up for a century as the distance Americans will walk before driving, is actually a myth….

As we all know, if you’re at Best Buy and need to pick something up at Old Navy, there’s no way you’re walking from one store to another. Instead, you get in your car and drive as close as possible to the Old Navy front door. You’ll even wait for a parking space to open up instead of driving to an open space just a few spaces away… not because you’re lazy, but because it’s such a terrible walking experience.

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