When I visited my family in southwest Michigan a few weeks ago, the first thing I noticed was the twangy, excruciatingly-long-A accent. The second thing I noticed: Everybody was fat, and, despite the fact that my hometown spans a maximum of about two miles, the lanky members of the high school cross-country team were the only residents using the sidewalks.
That’s a shame. The average resident of a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood weighs 7 pounds less than someone who lives in a sprawling subdivision, according to one study done in Washington. And walking of course cuts down on driving, and thus car accidents and carbon emissions.
So just how walk-able is your neighborhood? I just found a fabulous site, www.walkscore.com, that will rate it based on its proximity to nearby stores, restaurants, schools, parks, etc. (Unfortuantely, it doesn’t take into consideration other factors that make walking more attractive, such as the width of the streets, crime stats, topography, or public transit.)
My old haunt in southwest Michigan: 49/100
My current Greek ‘hood in Queens: 95/100 (Score!)