New Tool Measures Grocery, Restaurant and Public Transit Access in DC

by Shilpi Paul

Want to ensure that there is a fresh food grocer within a five-minute walk of your future home? Are you a foodie who wants to walk to a different restaurant every night of the week? A new tool from WalkScore may help.

ChoiceMaps, which launched on Thursday, illustrates the accessibility and choice of neighborhood amenities like restaurants, grocery stores, schools and public transit options in U.S. cities.

The map, which can be found here, provides a drop-down menu that allows users to pick from options including restaurants, coffeeshops, schools, public transit or grocery stores. The user then sets a sliding time scale (from 5 to 20 minutes) which will dictate the options that the map will illustrate. You then choose between two different map types: choice, which measures the number of options within walking distance based on the set timeframe, or access, which simply measures whether or not there is at least one option within the set time parameters. A map is then generated to give you a visual sense of how much choice, or access, you have. The more green one sees, the more access to the chosen criteria.

We decided to test it out for DC.

In the map above, we set the walk time to five minutes, the category to restaurant and the map type to choice. We peeked at the access map for this category as well, which was very green: 53 percent of people in the District can walk to at least one restaurant within five minutes. One of the downsides to the map is that it does not set a criteria for the type of restaurant. In other words, within a five-minute walk could be anything from a deli to a four-star establishment.

The choice map is a bit more interesting. The green areas indicate a high number of choices, while red indicates a fewer options, and a lack of color indicates no options within a five-minute walk. From this map, it looks like residents of Dupont Circle have the most options. Adams Morgan and downtown DC have the next highest levels of green, and the 14th Street Corridor, Capitol Hill and the H Street Corridor are very light green, perhaps indicating a burgeoning number of options.

Our next map looks at grocery stores. In this category, we were most interested in pure access. For those willing to walk 20 minutes to pick up eggs and bananas, ChoiceMaps has determined that almost everyone in DC — 97 percent of the population — has access to at least one grocer. However, a 20-minute walk with groceries can be tough, and the five-minute scene, pictured above, is spottier. Those in parts of Woodridge and Brookland are out of luck if they need to dash out to the store for some milk. The NE quadrant generally shows less access than the NW quadrant, and perhaps predictably, Wards 7 and 8 are lacking access as well.

How many DC residents have public transit access?

In the last map, looking at public transit options, we were also interested in pure access. Because the map takes into account both the bus and the Metro, a large percentage — 88 percent — of people in the District are five minutes away from at least one public transit option.

One of the downsides to the map is that it does not set a criteria for the type of restaurant, grocery option or school. In other words, within a five-minute walk could be anything from a deli to a four-star establishment; for grocery store, it could be a corner store or a Harris Teeter.

Readers, test out the new tool yourself and let us know what you think.

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See other articles related to: walkscore, choicemaps

This article originally published at

1 Comment

  1. Campy said at 3:51 pm on Thursday April 11, 2013:

    I understand that the data isn’t there for this tool but this type of analysis is excellent at benchmarking many public and/or private services.

    For instance, I’d love to see the 5 minute walkable Metro access map overlaid with the same for the projected 37-mile streetcar system.

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Pam Wye

TTR Sotheby's Int'l Realty



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