Walkscore.com, an online database that ranks cities and neighborhoods based on their ease of travel by foot, recently gave Tuscaloosa a score of 37 out of 100 on walkability. Front Seat, a Seattle-based software company, created the website in order to objectively rank neighborhoods based on how easy it is to travel to and from certain amenities by foot.
“With the surge in gas prices, people are really considering the consequences of where they live,” Mike Mathieu, chairman and founder of Front Seat, a civic software company and developer of walkscore.com, said. “The idea with Walk Score is to take walkability, a thing that used to be subjective, and to make it objective.”
Some of the highest ranked cities in America include San Francisco with an 86 out of 100, New York City with a 83 out of 100 and Boston with a 79 out 100. Each of these cities sits on the high end of the ‘very walkable’ bracket, suggesting that most errands can be easily accomplished on foot.
With a score of 37, Tuscaloosa sits in the middle of the ‘car-dependent’ category, where very few amenities can be easily reached by walking. When compared to the list of the 40 most and least walkable cities in America, Tuscaloosa’s score ranks the city below 39 of them, only narrowly outscoring Jacksonville, Fla. by one point.
It comes as no surprise to many students that Tuscaloosa received such a low score.
“Living on campus is hard enough to get anywhere without a car, but after living off campus for a year, I can’t imagine walking through life in Tuscaloosa,” Duncan Anderson, a junior majoring in public relations, said. “Pretty much anywhere you need to get to from off campus requires a car and finding a place to park where you won’t get ticketed makes traveling anywhere just as problematic.”
With many students coming to school from out of state, cars aren’t always the first things on the checklist of many incoming students and parents. Many students decide instead to bring bikes to
campus, a choice that can work well while living on campus but loses much of its viability as the students begin to commute.
“I think that biking to areas near campus is a definite alternative to driving, but there are still areas that are hard to reach off campus by bike or will at least take a long time to reach without a car,” Alec Vasquez, a junior majoring in marketing, said. “I’m really glad that I’m coming to Alabama from Georgia and have been fortunate enough to have my car here, but the students that are consigned to travelling everywhere by bike or by foot definitely fight an uphill battle with everything being located so far away.”
Conveniently, Walk Score is working on releasing another site, aptly named bikescore.com, which reviews the ability to bike in various cities across the United States. The site has already reviewed Tucson, Ariz., the home of the University of Arizona and another prominent college town, and plans to rank other college towns, as well as major cities, in the future.