Chart of the Day: Walkscore vs. Streetscape Quality

Via Jeff Speck’s twitter, here’s a chart from a recent report titled “Painting the Picture: the validity of Walk Score in addressing subjective urban design qualities in the built environment“, which analyzes whether or not Walkscore does an adequate job of actually capturing the elements that make for a high quality pedestrian experience.

Here’s one of the charts, comparing “design score” to “walk score” across different points in downtown Detroit :


Contrast this correlation (.62) with a similar analysis from suburban neighborhoods, where the correlation is far lower (.11). According to the authors, “conducting a correlational analysis by neighborhood type revealed significant differences in the strength of correlation between Walk Score and subjective urban design qualities.”

In other words, Walkscore is pretty crude, and at a few points there were big differences in quality of sidewalks with similar scores. This is especially true for auto-oriented areas. Walk score can’t really tell the difference between a comfortable sidewalk and a STROAD-facing one.

Check out the whole 62-page study to really dig into the data!

Bill Lindeke

About Bill Lindeke

Pronouns: he/him

Bill Lindeke has writing blogging about sidewalks and cities since 2005, ever since he read Jane Jacobs. He is a lecturer in Urban Studies at the University of Minnesota Geography Department, the Cityscape columnist at Minnpost, and has written multiple books on local urban history. He was born in Minneapolis, but has spent most of his time in St Paul. Check out Twitter @BillLindeke or on Facebook.