This is somewhat off topic, but I felt it was a good example of a technology mashup that serves those of us who would like to drive less. Of course it is most helpful to those of us who have a chance to choose a place to live based on how walkable that place is.
Walk Score is a hybrid google business map that tabulates the general distance to a wide range of typical business types.
The walk score then rates how reasonable it is to live car-lite, or survive and walk everywhere. My first three data points actually reflect their rankings very well. My childhood home gets a 57 or “some walkable locations.” I found it easy to bike around in the years before I had a driver’s license, but I wouldn’t want to live there without a car as an adult. My current house gets a 38: “not walkable.” I find this generally true from the perspective of errands. However, our proximity to the park easily offsets the requirement of driving to the grocery store. A lot of places are an easy bike-ride: the farmer’s market, downtown, brightleaf square, American Tobacco Campus, Duke East campus, and 9th street (to name a few). Fortunately Durham is gaining ground in the bike-friendly world.
Finally, our new house, in Forest Grove, gets a 74: “Very walkable.” Woohoo! Of course we knew this about the house; it was part of what we liked best. And it certainly validates the algorithm that walkscore uses.