You know about the website WalkScore, right?  You plug in an address, and it spits out a score that somehow signifies how walkable the area around the address is.  It’s measuring things like proximity to grocery stores, drug stores, transit, schools, hardware stores, restaurants and cafes, etc.  The closer an address is to more of these things, the higher its score is.  It’s not perfect, since it doesn’t measure things like how nice some streets are to walk down, but it’s not bad either.

Anyway, Katharine Wroth in Grist writes up a really interesting study of the relation in 15 US cities between a neighbourhood’s walk score and its real estate prices.  The study included a regression analysis controlling for things like the size of houses, the age of houses, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and how close neighbourhoods were to downtown.  And it still found that houses in neighbourhoods with above average walkability were between $4,000 and $34,000 more expensive than houses in neighbourhoods with below average walkability.  That’s the extra amount of money people are willing to pay to live in a walkable neighbourhood.

Clark Williams-Derry, also at Grist, comments:

[W]hat the. . . study shows is that there is a real and measurable pent up demand for homes in walkable neighborhoods.  For decades, sprawl apologists have argued that low-density suburban development was somehow “natural,” because it’s what homebuyers “prefer.”  By now, though, it’s clear that many homebuyers are wiling to pay a premium for walkability.  The real problem is that the demand for walkable homes exceeds the supply — which pushes up the price.

Right.  People have to pay more for walkability because it’s undersupplied.  It’s worth keeping that point in mind you hear people complaining, as some are in this Sun “Soundoff” thread, that the Canada Line doesn’t have enough park-and-rides around its stations.  Even though major transit nodes have a huge impact on the walkability of an area, some people want to use that space around train stations for parking cars, and not for living, eating, working, and playing.

Update: Ah.  Here’s the Sun‘s Kelly Sinoski on this:

Shopping centres in both Vancouver and Richmond say they will bolster security to ensure Canada Line customers aren’t using their lots for daily parking.

Canada Line officials say there is no need — or space — for park-and-ride lots, since the stations are mostly in high-density areas and connect with bus routes.