- Safe walking surfaces out of traffic: sidewalks, bike paths, park paths, or very quiet streets to walk in.
- Restrooms every 1-2 miles. I don't mind porta-johns, and I'm quite brave about using Starbucks or gas stations. I just want to know they are available when I need them.
- Quiet routes: little or no walking next to busy streets.
- Feeling of security - I know my neighborhood is a pretty safe place for women walking alone. I know crime can happen anywhere, but my neighborhood walking routes are full of other walkers, joggers, bikers, and dog walkers.
- Destinations: It's often more fun to "walk to the park" or "walk to Starbucks" rather than just walking around housing developments.
The WalkScore.com rating is mostly based on walking as transportation. Indeed, I am 1.5 miles from most needed services. That's a short walk for me, but too far for carrying anything to and fro. Since most errands require driving, they rank my address as Not Walkable. Their definition of walkable is transportation-based: can you live there happily without a car? I agree, my neighborhood isn't someplace you want to live if you have no car. It is further to the bus than to the grocery store. You could survive pretty well with a bicycle if you worked from home or in the nearby industry. The town is set up in a horseshoe pattern of development with stores in the middle, housing surrounding it, and light industry and agricultural areas surrounding that. I can walk from my house to a farm stand for fresh-grown vegetables and fruits.
For fitness walking, my location is wonderful. For surviving without a car, it is difficult. That is the nature of suburbs. But, frankly, I grew up in a farming area where the roads were unsafe for both walking and biking and town was over five miles away. Where I live now is a walker's paradise, comparatively. And I really think I'd feel hemmed-in in the dense neighborhoods preferred for "Walkability." You can't take a farm girl and put her in a high-rise without even a patch of lawn. Am I a selfish, un-green person? Am I contributing more than my share to global warming? What do you think makes a neighborhood walkable?
Top Walking Cities 2007
10 Reasons to Start Walking for the Planet