Neighborhoods within walking distance to public transportation, stores, services, and workplaces allow residents to drive less and be more active, leading to both environmental and personal health benefits. Reduced automobile usage decreases greenhouse gas emissions and increased walking and biking saves money and promotes a healthy physical activity level.

Developing and analyzing data sets showing the relationship between land use and location efficiency can be a difficult and expensive process. In response to this issue, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed the following three tools that analyze the land use and transit accessibility of metropolitan neighborhoods in the United States: 

  1. Smart Location Database is a tool used for estimating location efficiency. It summarizes over 90 indicators, such as land use, street network design, accessibility, and employment statistics.
  2. Access to Jobs and Workers Via Transit Tool analyzes the accessibility of neighborhoods by public transit. It references indicators such as workers, household, and population that can access a region by public transit.
  3. National Walkability Index supplies walkability scores for metropolitan regions. Scores are calculated by ranking indicators from the Smart Location Database. (Output of this tool is shown above.)

These tools can be used to assess and compare neighborhood conditions, assist in scenario planning, and assist in travel demand or impervious surface growth modeling. For more information on how your community can increase efficiency through smart location mapping check out this EPA website.

About the Author

Maureen Schneider

Maureen A. Schneider
Project Engineer

Maureen is passionate about finding effective, efficient, and environmentally sustainable solutions to engineering problems. She has experience in the development of storm water management plans, stream restoration projects, regulatory permit processes, agricultural pollutant reduction program implementation, and other storm water quality improvement projects. Maureen has been with Ruekert & Mielke, Inc. since 2017.

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