Thursday, November 15, 2012

Where the Sidewalk Starts Heads South

If blogging has been a bit sparse over the past few weeks, it's for good reason: our household is leaving the wilds of Los Angeles and heading to that raucous border town San Diego. I might not have been writing about pedestrian issues much lately, but they have certainly been my mind as we contemplate where to live in our new town.

WalkScore has played an important role in our housing search, and has been telling to test its algorithms out against what we see on the ground. As a reference point, our Woodland Hills home has a walkscore of 78: we don't have sidewalks, closely-spaced crosswalks, or many street trees--but we do have an abundance of commercial and civic sites within walking distance. With three grocery stores, banks, a library, drugstores, a pet store, restaurants, a hardware store, and more within a half-mile of our front door, we could conceivably ditch our car for much of our everyday errands.

On the other hand, as my husband points out, "I don't need to be able to walk to the optometrist, I just want a cool pub nearby." You may remember that he's not the only one who thinks this way. Earlier this year Scott Doyon released his map of "pub sheds" in Decatur, Georgia, his take on measuring walkability by proximity to beer.

It might sound silly at first, but it's actually a valid point. Pubs, like cafes, squares, and parks, function as important "third places" where people in the neighborhood can gather, meet one another, chat about local issues, and generally do the things that build community. While it's nice to be able to get your milk and pick up some doorknobs without getting in your car, running errands on foot doesn't necessarily help to build relationships that lead people to invest in, and feel connected to, their community.

Given this, we're willing to accept living in a neighborhood that has a lower walkscore--as long as we can walk to a wine bar. Fingers are crossed...

1 comment:

  1. We have a trashy bar around the corner from us. I have only gone twice -- I probably would have gone a LOT when I was in my early 20s -- but I admit, I *love* the fact that it is there. It's a pain in the ass -- the patrons are drunk, loud, the place opens illegally at 8AM. But it's still a community asset.