I just calculated my Walk Score, thanks to a link on Walking Fort Bragg I spotted today. My score is slightly lower than Ron’s, probably because I am a bit more on the fringes of downtown than he is (or maybe it took points off because I have to pass through the fake wood zone to get anywhere), but it got me thinking about walking and walkability.
Oddly enough, Fort Bragg is actually a really walkable town, even though the coast itself is not very walkable. I’ve always thought it’s funny that a lot of my hippie friends criticize me for living in Fort Bragg…but I can get by without a car and they can’t, living in their sanctimonious solar powered spreads on Navarro Ridge or wherever. Indeed, anyone who is committed to the environment really should be living clustered around a downtown area, not out in the woods cut off from everything. I can get to most places with walking, and I see lots of other citizens without cars, staggering under loads of laundry or carrying heavy grocery bags, so clearly other people are living car-less as well. (Or just walking more, which is really commendable.)
I really only have two complaints about the walkability of Fort Bragg. The first is that the hospital and medical services are concentrated at the far end of town, distanced from a lot of residences and everything else. I have an appointment at the clinic next week and I need to round up a ride to go, which is really irritating, especially since the clinic used to be right downtown. I wish they had kept the downtown office open, at least a skeleton clinic for minor stuff, so I didn’t have to beg a ride to get a refill on a prescription. Since a lot of po’ folk live downtown without cars, it sucks that we cannot get access to medical attention without a very long walk, or a car ride.
All the athletic facilities are pretty out of reach as well, especially once the new aquatic center gets finished.
It’s also irritating to me that Harvest is really out of reach, walk-wise. While I shop at the farmers’ market and Roundman’s, it is really nice to be able to get a bunch of stuff at Harvest…and I can’t do that without abusing someone for their car. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to live in Mendocino when I first moved home, actually, because they’re got Harvest at Mendosas, Corners, medical services, and everything else within walking distance. (Well..to be fair…everything in Mendocino is in walking distance, but you know what I mean.)
While both of these things are irritants, it really becomes frustrating that I don’t have a car when I have to attend social events outside of Fort Bragg. Since many of my friends are among the car owning elite, this problem comes up a lot, as was the case last night when someone didn’t think to invite me to an event until it had almost begun. This might not have been a problem for someone with a car, but it proved to be the tipping point for me, and I was unable to go, much to my disappointment. And since many of those people make a conscious choice not to live in Fort Bragg, it’s difficult to get them to come into town, so sometimes I feel very cut off, for all that I live in the middle of town.
Despite all of these things, I really like not owning a car. I am saving a bunch of money, for one thing, which is awesome. And cars, at root, really are a hassle, especially when you only need one one day a week or so. What I long for is a car share, so that I can have a car when I need one without hogging one all to myself. Today I was seized with a passion to plant kiwis, for example, but I can’t get plants until I have the use of a car. (Also…if anyone has any kiwi growing tips, let me know.) With a car share, I could do that without having to bug one of my friends (or my father). Alas, we probably don’t have the population to support a car share, just like we cannot have good public transit.
I highly recommend that you guys check out your walking scores. All you need is an address and a zip code. Just to contrast: my score on the Island is an 8…in Fort Bragg, it’s an 82. Add your score below, if you feel so inclined, along with any comments about what makes your home a good or bad place for walkers.