Many of you in all probability have found Walkscore on the web, a niche site where you are able to enter street addresses and it will rate a neighborhood’s walkability to businesses, parks, and schools. And remember just because your favorite neighborhood has sidewalks doesn’t mean it will be a highly rated walkable neighborhood.
Huntsville doesn’t fare very well on this website, with a citywide walable score of 38. If Huntsville were one of the nation’s 40 largest cities, we would be the 39th most walkable, behind Nashville and in front of bottom- ranked Jacksonville. Other cities in the area don’t fare much better; Decatur is the best in the region with an average score of 40. Athens and Madison came in at 37 and 28 respectively.
I decided out of curiosity to take the “walkscores” a step further. I divided Huntsville up into 14 sections/neighborhoods of various sizes and put them against 16 other communities in the region, everywhere from Mooresville (population 65) to Decatur (population 56,000). I selected up to twelve addresses in each neighborhood at random and took the average. The result: unscientific lists of the ten most and least walkable communities in the region.
- Downtown Huntsville - No surprises here; most of the CBD and Historic District are very walkable. However, the most walkable address I found in the region was in #2. Most walkable: Lincoln Street. Least walkable: Searcy Homes, which still had a fairly high score of 69; coming redevelopment will probably raise this. Average score: 74.7
- Fayetteville– a fine Courthouse Square and downtown make this Southern Tennessee city the place to beat. Most walkable: the large historic district, which is where I found the only “walker’s paradise” (score of 95) in the region. Least walkable: its suburban fringes, which will only grow as Huntsville continues its march northward across the state line. Average score: 72.6
- North Downtown– surprisingly, this largely industrial area (which includes up-and-coming Lincoln Mill) beat out established urban neighborhoods such as Five Points and Merrimack (#11). Most walkable: Lincoln Mill. Least walkable: the University/Parkway interchange, the convergence of Huntsville’s two “Berlin Walls” (as said by a local bicyclist). Average score: 71
- West Downtown/Lowe Mill
- Terry Heights
- Medical District/Blossomwood
- Five Points
- The Coves (Hampton, Big)– Hampton Cove is the only place where I found a walkscore of 0– actually, half of the addresses I used had the lowest score possible. Most walkable: the closest you live to 431 and Sutton, the better (but not by much). Least walkable: Everywhere else. Average score: 5.6
- Zierdt Road/Triana– this sprawlicious area eked out of the bottom spot because I decided to include the town of Triana in the average. Most walkable: Triana. Least walkable: Beadle Lane. Average score: 8.5
- Mooresville– this cool 6-block historic town would seem like the perfect walkable community. But being sandwiched between 565, the Tennessee River, and farmland, there really isn’t much to walk to. Average score: 9
- Hazel Green
- Northeast Madison County
- Southeast Huntsville
- New Hope
Thanks to James over at the Huntsville Development blog for this effort.