Since I sort of dragged Alex Wetmore into the whole Fat Cyclist meme thing (which I agree like email chain letters is pretty lame) by way of John Speare, it’s only fair that I get on board with one of the more interesting things he’s been thinking about recently. Friday Alex talked about all the the things he likes about his neighborhood (particularly from a walking and biking perspective) and asked his readers what they liked about theirs.
Alex specifically mentioned <a href="http://walkscore.com">walkscore.com</a>, so I headed over there and plugged in our address. Turns out the walk score for our house is a rather poor 15 and we are labeled as car dependent. That's accurate to a point considering the mindset of most Americans up until now, but it doesn't factor in the bicycle at all. I'd like to see some kind of score that points out how many things are within biking distance of a neighborhood. The location of our house is really pretty good if you factor that in. <h3>The Good</h3> We live in a residential area right outside the edge of the city of Spokane (54th is still the boundary for whatever reason, although 57th would be more logical). There isn't a ton of stuff right in our neighborhood, but we do have a nice restaurant called Luna, Rocket Market and Egger's Meats all within easy walking distance. Everything else we need is very much in biking distance just over a mile away to the east and also to the north. There are a bunch of eating establishments on Grand between 37th and 29th and around Regal/57th to the east, although we don't eat out very often. We also have an Ace hardware store over on Regal and South Hill Lumber as well. It would be nice for the kids if we lived a little closer to a park, but since we have a decent sized backyard and have several parks within easy biking distance when they're older I can't complain too much. Additionally, it's only a 6 mile commute for me down the hill to work. This time of year that generally means around 20 minutes riding time down to work and a half hour coming back home up the hill if I choose the most direct route. I'm happy to report that it's been very rare for me to drive into work since May. Although it's not something I've taken advantage of to this point, we actually live within a couple blocks of a bus top over on Perry too. Getting to work via the bus would require a transfer downtown, but it's still nice to know it's available. We also have lots of trails and rural areas available for relaxing bike riding only a couple miles away at most. We have he whole bluff network just below High Dr and heading south on Hatch or the Palouse Highway yields access to plenty of dirt/gravel roads. <h3>The Bad</h3> One downside of where we live is that we're right on Hatch, which is a busy arterial during the day. It isn't too bad after 8 or 9 PM, but I don't think we'll ever be comfortable letting the kids fiddle around in our driveway and front yard until they're a lot older. On the plus side since Hatch is an arterial its also one of the first streets plowed when it snows during the winter and that was a very good thing last year. Speaking of winter, I still haven't completely established a go to route down the hill once the roads get snow covered and icy. My goal is to commute by bike as much as possible year round, but my downhill snow biking needs work. Taking advantage of the bus stop near my house in conjunction with my bike might actually be the smart way to get down the hill some of the time during the winter. <h3>The Map</h3> <img class="aligncenter" title="Neighborhood" src="http://img.skitch.com/20080725-pqtdwcg4wgbrmkfk3sshhmu9us.jpg" alt="" width="480" height="458" /> As you can see most of the commercial areas I mentioned are just outside the area shown on this map, but there's a ton of stuff that's just over a mile away and very much in biking range (and I plan to take advantage of this more and more in the future). Mary and I are very happy to have Rocket Market and Egger's so close. I grew up on the South Hill and was very familiar with all its positives so I was pretty interested in finding a home around here. We were totally lucky on our timing and just happened to start looking within a day or two of our current home going on the market. Mary was actually somewhat hesitant to move forward, but I saw a deal that just was too good too pass up and we've both been really happy to have ended up where we are.