June 2010 home page

Piper Underwood | Rimini Road


Caminio Del Mar in front of the Library.  Photo Piper Underwood

Del Mar must be one of the most walkable towns on the planet, right? We have beautiful beaches; bluff top views, canyons, river valleys and winding streets lined with charming gardens and homes. So you can imagine my surprise when I learned Del Mar scored a 71 out of 100 on Walkscore.com. I couldn’t believe it. In fact, I was even a little offended.

Walkscore.com is a website that calculates a location’s walkability by assessing the proximity of walkable amenities within a given town. The logic is that the more errands you can complete on foot, the more often you will walk.

So what makes a town foot friendly? Turns out it is a combination of factors. Following is a list of factors that Walk Score takes into consideration when calculating a location’s walkability:

A center: Walkable cities have a center, a downtown or mainstreet where retail, restaurants and businesses are concentrated.
Isn’t this the intersection of 15th St. and Camino del Mar? I think our mainstreet is quite pedestrian friendly, particularly with the freshly done sidewalks.
People: Walkable cities require people for businesses to flourish and for public transit to run frequently.
Okay, so maybe we fall short on numbers, but I think we more than make up for it in the summer with all the tourists. Heck, half of Phoenix moves to town!
Parks and public space: Walkable towns have plenty of places to gather and play.
Surely we scored a 100 on this item!
Pedestrian design: Buildings are close to the street; parking lots are relegated to the back.
There are a few ad hoc parking lots such as the one in front of Seaside Yogurt and Dexter’s that are street front, but for the most part I think we pass this test.
• Schools and workplaces: Close enough that most pedestrians can walk from their homes.
When the Shores campus closed, we lost one neighborhood school, but we still have two others that are walkable distances for most neighborhood kids. As for walking to work, I’m sure we lost some points on this one.
Complete Streets: Streets designed for bicycles, pedestrians and transit.  Perhaps we fall a bit short on this item as well, but don’t we more than make up for it with our beaches?
Mixed income, mixed use: Affordable housing located near businesses.

I know a handful of local high school kids who work in shops and restaurants downtown Del Mar. However, I suppose it’s not enough to register us a top score, especially if our bartenders and baristas are commuting by car.
Still I think we deserve a higher score. Perhaps Walk Score should consider things like, how many residents are dog owners or the annual median temperature in Del Mar? I’m sure if they included items such as these to their algorithm, we would score much higher than 71!



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