Some day I would like to live in a neighborhood in which every daily need is within walking distance. In the era of $4 gas, I suspect many others share my ambition. A new Google-maps-based service, Walk Score, makes finding such a home much easier.
The utility allows you to input an address and reports back the distance to the closest theater, grocery, health club, restaurant, bar, library, and more. For example, I live .46 miles from the nearest coffee shop (I'm embarassed to admit I drive there most every day), one mile to the nearest bar, .23 miles from the nearest book store (a killer comics shop), and a mile to the nearest grocery. Looking at these numbers, I realize that I already live in a walkable community. I just need to put on my shoes and do it.
The service is of most use, of course, to those in the market for a new abode, especially when moving from a remote location. While the data is only as reliable as the Google input, for me it's about 90% accurate. The site also assigns a walkability score to the neighborhood; mine rates a 48 out of 100. What's yours?