Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What if I want to press flowers while self-medicating?

Four-way intersections and a "diverse mixture of businesses" make a neighborhood perfect for walking, according to this study by the Rand Corp. I don't know what mix of businesses they find ideal, but you can make up your own and see how close a zip code comes to matching it at the Census Bureau site. Beware that it takes a lot of patience. I tested it by looking for zip codes in New England that have at least three businesses in each of these five categories: groceries, liquor stores, bookstores and news dealers, drugstores, and florists. Then I eliminated the zip codes that also had at least three dealers of automotive parts, as an attempt to weed out malls. By this highly arbitrary criteria, I came up with eight "diverse" zip codes in the region: Hartford, CT 06040 Andover, MA 01810 Beverly, MA 01915 Newburyport, MA 01950 Boston (Back Bay), MA 02116 Cambridge, MA 02138 Newport, RI 02906 Providence, RI 02906 A few dozen other places failed to make the cut because they didn't have enough bookstores or florists. I may have to refine my criteria and report back. So what makes a perfect walkable neighborhood? Does it need "pet supplies," "bowling centers," or "meat markets"?

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