I’m a big fan of a company called Walk Score. I’ve mentioned them several times is the past, but basically a Walk Score is a way for people to score a property based on it’s walk-ability. Being somewhat of a transit geek, I find this tool very interesting and have shared it with a bunch of people over the last few years. Yesterday, I read that the the City of Phoenix is using Walk Score data for part of a Transit Oriented Development study that should be available later this year. How cool is that?!?!
Check out this information from the Walk Score blog.
“Walk Score data helps us understand which corridors and station locations perform best from a land use perspective—which is often a key missing input in transportation planning where the primary focus is on ‘node’ (stations) rather than ‘place’ considerations,” said Curt Upton, the Light Rail Planning Coordinator for The City of Phoenix Planning and Development Services Department.
Sample Walk Score data:
I poked around a little bit and am really looking forward to learning more about the results of the TOD study in Phoenix. According to their web site, the Phoenix Planning Commission has been studying the areas surrounding six light rail stations to begin their study. They are analyzing intersection density along with information on housing, regulatory / zoning issues, parking, landscaping and MUCH more. Creating new zoning districts along the entire 20 mile system has been discussed for years, and higher density zoning has been successful in taking advantage of the supply / demand issues within approximately 1/2 mile of light rail stations.
“Local residents, business owners, and community groups are encouraged to become involved in creating a plan that identifies opportunities for new development and improves the connectivity of your neighborhood to the light rail station.” City of Phoenix
These are some of the areas that have been reviewed on the Phoenix web site, each has unique characteristics:
If you live, work or play along the line, you have probably noticed changes in how people get to restaurants, sporting events, schools, cultural activities and more. I’m sure this study will be a great tool in identifying some of the major shifts that have occurred. I’m certain that there have been other studies done to analyze the impact of the light rail line in Tempe, Mesa, and in Phoenix, but this is the first one that I am aware of ( on a large scale ) to use Walk Score data and I’m excited to see the results.
To see an example of how Walk Score works, click this link and then zoom in on the map to find a property in an area of interest. Each property will have a score based on area walk-ability.
Obviously, not everything located along the line gets an automatic money machine guaranteeing it’s success. There have been casualties, for sure. For the most part, the demand for more urban lifestyle options in Arizona has been strong. Grants for development near light rail, great support from locally owned business members, ASU students, and more continue to keep METRO ridership numbers far above early projections. This study by the City of Phoenix should go a long way in telling the story of what’s been happening since December of 2008, when trains once again began traveling our city streets. Thanks to Walk Score and to a bunch of other data, we should soon get a better glimpse of the future of transit-oriented development in our region…
Stick around, we will share the results once they become available.