Keynote Speaker Dr. Eric Scharnhorst: Building Invitations for Walking in American Cities

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By: Eric Scharnhorst, Designer of Opportunity Score at Redfin


Imagine dropping your car off at the mechanic. Now, how are you going to get anywhere? Can you walk home? Will you be able to get to work the next morning without a car? Do you feel safe walking in your neighborhood?


Or would walking home feel more like Frogger?



The green frog is about to try and cross the street to get home to his lily pad in the arcade game Frogger.

Next week is Feet First’s 2016 Walkable Washington Symposium & Awards in Bellevue, an event focused on building walking infrastructure and culture in Washington cities. Here at Redfin, we are passionate about creating livable cities, and improving walkability is a key component of that. In fact, Redfin acquired in 2014 so that we can help people get a complete portrait of what it would be like to live somewhere new, within the house and in the surrounding neighborhood. Walk Score is now the authority on walkability insights, and has expanded to provide cycling and transit metrics, as well.


We see the importance of walkability bubbling up in the data we have at Redfin and Walk Score. Homes with a high Walk Score sell faster and closer to asking price than homes in neighborhoods with a lower Walk Score. We also know that walkability is an important issue because our real estate agents keep hearing from homebuyers that walkability is an important characteristic they look for in a neighborhood.


As a high-tech real estate brokerage, we can monitor how walkability affects the housing market. And we can make tools that measure the walking, biking and transit infrastructure in neighborhoods across the country. But building a walkable city is a construction project, not an algorithm. This means building sidewalks and bike lanes, and passing legislation that will encourage developers to build invitations for walking.


This is why we’re happy to be a part of the Walkable Washington Symposium this year, and I hope you’ll join me in Bellevue next Tuesday. Here’s a link to get one of the last remaining tickets. I’ll be talking about how cities can upgrade their walkability and livability, and I’ll show off a new tool we created in partnership with the White House that helps people find homes in areas where it is easy to travel to quality jobs, even if they don’t have a car.





Dr. Scharnhorst is researching cities, livability and housing at Redfin. He is the designer of Opportunity Score, a new Redfin tool that measures how jobs and homes are connected by walking and public transportation throughout cities across the country.

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Your donation will help us to:

put on neighborhood walks and provide walking resources

raise awareness throughout Washington about the benefits of walkable communities and rights of the pedestrians

host events and programs focused on improving walkability