Friday, May 28, 2010

How walkable is your neighborhood?

A while back, the good people at Walkscore created a tool that allows users to "measure" the walkability of their house. Users can type in an address at their site or in the "neighborhood walkability" widget on the right-side of this blog.  Their measure of walkability is based on the distance to amenities nearby (i.e. within walking distance), such as grocery stores, restaurants, bars, public transit, schools, pharmacies, parks, etc.

Because The City is compact and has several parks, and schools and shopping centers, many of the City's older neighborhoods - such as Old Town or Fairlawn - score very well.  However, some the new developments are a mixed bag in terms of their walkability score.  The new Archstone-built apartments at the corner of 4th/Cherry and on Contee Road have good scores of 75 out of a 100 and 63 out of 100, respectively.  Meanwhile, the newest developments of Wellington 7 and the Crescent on Cherry Lane fare worse at 45 and 28, respectively, in terms of walkability.

Now, the walkability score is far from perfect. Impediments such as rivers or highways are ignored, as well as, the existence (or lack) of sidewalk or pedestrian-friendly infrastructure.  Fortunately, the City of Laurel has a well built-out sidewalk infrastructure and no large boundaries such as interstates or rivers to impede walking.  So, in general, the higher your walkability score, the closer you are to many amenities. 

Studies (PDF) have shown that, in general, higher walkability scores are correlated with higher home values in Cities.  Based on a random selection of neighborhoods, this does not appear to hold true in the City of Laurel.  With the exception of Old Town, the neighborhoods with lower walkablilty scores tend to be more expensive.  Of course, home size and new construction have a large role in that corollary.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Biking & Pedestrian Infrastrucuture for Laurel included in Senator Cardin's FY2011 Appropriations Request

In his Appropriations Request for funding in FY2011, Senator Benjamin Cardin has included a $400,000 request by the City of Laurel for bike and pedestrian infrastructure improvements. The funding will be used at select locations for:
  • 10' wide Asphalt hiker/biker trail to be illuminated with solar-power overhead lighting.
  • Sidewalk gap infill.
  • Countdown Pedestrian Signals/Audible Pedestrian Signals.
  • Remove and replacement of existing ramps for ADA compliance.
Keep your fingers crossed.