How far will 10 minutes of walking take you in Arlington? And which transportation options will you find? Mobility Lab’s tech advisor Michael Schade, inspired by a Twitter inquiry about walkshed visualisations, recently set out to create a localized walkshed tool that links walking to any number of transportation options.
Speaking at last month’s walking-centric Transportation Techies meetup, Schade explained how he began working with the API – the application programming interface – of walkability-rating website Walk Score. Walk Score’s existing mapping tool generates a walking radius “bubble” over a given area, using Google Maps as the base map, and allows programmers to tweak a few small preferences.
To localize it to Arlington County, the tool incorporates data from the county’s Open Data Portal, bringing in additional options missing from Google Maps and the Walk Score API. Launched last year, the portal makes publicly available a wide array of data about Arlington, from maps of its streams to data on filled potholes. The locations of dedicated Zipcar and Enterprise carsharing spaces and ART bus stops all came from data hosted within the portal.
Lastly, a layer of the Arlington Bike Comfort map came from Arlington’s GIS Open Data site. Users looking for bike connections can toggle the colored biking routes onto the Google Maps base layer. By checking the relevant options, a map user at Court House (see screenshot at top) could determine that the Capital Bikeshare station at Key Boulevard and N. Vietch, a mere five-minute walk away, is a good option for them because of its location on a comfortable biking street.
Like any good open data project, the walkshed visualizer is a work in progress. Other layers of data for additional modes, street conditions, or destinations could be added in the future. What other features might it include to best represent walking connections and conditions in the area? Feel free to chime in below.