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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Fort Thomas Walkability

One thing that makes Fort Thomas such an attractive community is the walk-ability of the community. A recent article in the Ground Floor - a blog on Urbanism - talks about how Gen X sees walking communities as attractive places to live. In the last paragraph of the post there is an interesting quote:

"In his presentation, Leinberger stated that the reason for the new market demand for more urban walkable places can be attributed to Generation X. Leinberger claims that this generation grew up on shows like Cheers, Seinfeld, Friends, and Sex in the City, where city living is seen as hip. In comparison, the Baby Boomers grew up with shows like Leave it to Beaver. Gen-Xers view living the walkable metropolitan life as trendy instead being previously viewed as "dirty" by generations past."

Along this line of reasoning there is a new site - Walk Score - that gives a walk-ability score for communities using an algorithm that is a bit skewed but useful to some degree. It inventories things such as schools, grocery stores, coffee shops, libraries, parks, etc and calculates the distance between each and the location you submit for a walkability score on a scale of 0 to 100 where 100 is highly walkable and 0 has you hopping in your car to get anywhere.

The results for Fort Thomas is a bit disappointing - 58. This is even more disappointing considering some of the flaws probably worked to inflate the score. For instance it lists Chik-fil-A at Tower Place Mall as .82 miles and adds to the restaurant score. It also listed Fort Thomas Independent Schools - the Board office - as a school. By comparison some scores of neighboring or even comparable communities:

Bellevue - 65
Newport - 82
Milford - 45
Mariemont - 80
Fort Mitchell - 58
Loveland - 28

While not fail proof this site can be a good tool for policy makers to determine the types of retail that should be attracted to the business districts. If I were to create a second generation of the tool I would incorporate more weighting for locally owned businesses that are unique and create a sense of community. A location that adds to the live-ability of the community.

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