WalkScore has taken their delicious color-coded walkability maps, previously covered on Where, national. The results are...well, a bit disappointing. Perhaps I'm the only one, but I'm getting a bit tired of seeing rankings that use central city populations to determine the sample cities when metropolitan populations are far more important in determining the stature of an urban area. It makes little sense that Jacksonville, Tucson, and Oklahoma City make the cut for such rankings while St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh -- the central cities of much larger, more important metropolitan areas -- are left out because they've lost population to suburbanization.
This methodology has been a minor annoyance to me for some time, but the oversight seems particularly egregious in the case of WalkScore's ranking since it punishes densely-built urban centers for falling victim to exactly what the site is supposedly working against, and rewards cities that inflate their population counts through annexation and suburban deveopment patterns. The end result is a bit embarassing, with the overall city scores dropping under 70/100 points before you even get past the top ten on the list. Average everything out and the US gets a big fat F for walkability in its cities.
While there's a long way to go for Americans to become a more pedestrian-minded people, the idea that only a handful of our major cities are walkable is a bit absurd, and seems more like a misrepresentation than useful information. While it certainly shows the damage that suburbanization has done to our cultural understanding of urbanity, it says little about the actual state of walkability in America.
And that's too bad, because the maps look great, and the idea behind the rankings is a good one. If real estate is about location, the mantra for academic study should be "Execution, execution, execution."