Revisiting Rahway’s Walk Score over the years

What makes a neighborhood walkable? According to Seattle-based Walk Score, it means having a main street or public space, “enough people for businesses to flourish and public transit to run frequently,” and streets designed for bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit, among other things.

Walkability has become a key ingredient in redevelopment in recent years, with the migration back to more urban areas.

The first time I rounded up the Walk Score for Rahway and various towns for comparison was 2008 and updated those scores in 2012. The Walk Score algorithm has evolved since then, and as you can see, some scores have changed dramatically:

2008 — 2012 — 2015

  1. Hoboken, 94 — 92 — 98
  2. Red Bank, 91 — 94 — 93
  3. Iselin, 64 — 61 — 87
  4. Rahway, 74 — 69 — 84
  5. New Brunswick, 85 — 70 — 83
  6. Metuchen, 97 — 97 — 81
  7. Kenilworth, 80 — 77 — 81
  8. Roselle Park, 77 — 77 — 81
  9. Woodbridge, 86 — 61 — 80
  10. Garwood, 71 — 89 — 80
  11. Linden, 68 — 67 — 73
  12. Morristown, 95 — 75 — 68
  13. Carteret, 71 — 57 — 65
  14. Manville, 78 — 71 — 65
  15. Clark, 55 — 74 — 60
  16. Roselle, 60 — 63 — 59
  17. Edison, 54 — 62 — 51
  18. Colonia, 62 — 46 — 38

Some of the big changes in these scores are curious (especially for Morristown, Colonia, Metuchen, Iselin). It could be some quirk in the formula since the swings are so dramatic but doubtful that there were that these towns changed that much.

Walk Score indicates Rahway has an “average” Walk Score of 63. The numbers listed above were the result of just typing in the town’s name, not a specific address or zip code, in theĀ Walk Score search bar. To be consistent, I did the search the same way each time.

Different parts of town likely would yield different scores but using the generic town name seems to automatically select some area or address near the center of town (in Rahway’s case, on Campbell Street and Elm Avenue). What’s behind the improvement in the Rahway score is curious since there aren’t too many more amenities in the downtown area than there were in 2008 or 2012, outside of several new developments and some retail turnover.

Compare that with Milton Boulevard or Midwood Drive on the other side of town, which get much more suburban-like Walk Scores of 43 and 35, respectively. Go ahead, type in your home address and see what you come up with.

According to Walk Score, its ranking “uses the Street Smart Walk Score algorithm that incorporates walking routes, depth of choice, pedestrian friendliness, population and neighborhood data.”

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