Gadfly’s walkability study (28)

(28th in a series of posts on Walkability and Bikeability)
(also 2nd in a series about sharing your reading)

Followers might have picked up from a reference here and there recently that Gadfly is reading — slowly — Jeff Speck’s Walkable City (2012). Speck did a study in Bethlehem previous to the book, and our city and Mayor Callahan are mentioned several times in it.

Gadfly was intrigued by Speck’s reference to the website — Walk Score — that calculates neighborhood walkability.

Bethlehem has a walk score now of 55/100, not all that great, putting us in the “somewhat walkable” category.

Gadfly is not sure that we should put any stock in that score/label. Mr. Wu, who led the Northside 2027 project consultants, told him the site is not much regarded any more.

But it was the idea of credibly rating/grading a town’s walkability that Gadfly found quite provocative. Really? How would one do that? So inventive. And so useful, if only in a very general way.

The following caught his attention too.

Speck calls the automobile the single greatest contributor to our total carbon footprint and talks about a national movement back from suburban sprawl into cities. He almost goes as far as saying “location, location” is as important in the carbon emissions battle as it is in real estate sales.

“Location trumps building design.”

“The most green home (with Prius) in sprawl still loses out to the least green home in a walkable neighborhood.”

Speck’s idea is that if you have to drive into the sprawling suburbs to a sophisticatedly designed energy-efficient house, you are still losing the battle, not helping the cause.


Well, anyway, somewhere in thinking about these two Speck matters, Gadfly got the idea of trying to get the measure of the walkability of his neighborhood and his own carbon footprint in this respect.

For convenience sake, imagine the Gadflys living at the Moravian Zinzendorf statue at Main and Elizabeth.

Now here — using Google map numbers for mileage and walking time — is an inventory of Gadfly walkability.

Work (before retirement):

Lehigh University, 2.1 mi., 44 mins.


LANTA stop, New and Elizabeth, .2 mi., 4 mins.


LVIA,  3311 Airport Rd., 3.7 mi, 47 mins.

Heavy-duty shopping (though PeaPod delivery is now our choice):

Weiss Market Westgate Mall, 1.5 mi., 32 mins.

Light shopping:

Wawa, 1584 8th Ave., 1 mi., 21 mins.

Eat out/dinner/fancy:

Downtown Northside, 1 mi., 20 mins.

Eat out/dinner-breakfast/diner-style:

Rudy’s, 1406 Center, .3 mi., 6 mins.

Eat out/lunch:

Carl’s or Fratelli’s, New and Elizabeth, .2 mi., 4 mins.


Dunkin’ Doughnuts, Elizabeth and Linden, 1301 Linden, .6 mi., 12 mins.

Neighborhood bar:

Roosevelt’s, 21 E. Elizabeth, .2 mi., 4 mins.

Car service:

Ike’s Shell, 1310 Center St, .3 mi., 6 mins.

Dry Cleaners:

Bethlehem Star Cleaners, 1364 Linden St., .6 mi., 12 mins.

City Hall:

10 E. Church St., 1 mi., 22 mins.


Bethlehem Area Public Library, 11 W. Church St., 1 mi., 22 mins.


ArtsQuest, 101 Founders Way, 2.2 mi, 45 mins.

Physical exercise/recreation/biking:

Monocacy Way, Illick’s Mill, 1.2 mi., 26 mins.

Sand Island/D&L Trail, 1.4 mi., 28 mins.

Park (kid’s/grandkids):

Heimple Park, Atwood and Memorial, .7 mi., 14 mins.

Elementary school:

William Penn, 1002 Main St., .4 mi., 7 mins.

Middle School:

Northeast, 1170 Fernwood St., 1.2 mi., 24 mins.

High School:

Liberty, 1115 Linden St., .9 mi., 19 mins.


Lehigh Valley Friends, 4116 Bath Pike, 3 mi., 1 hr.


St. Luke’s, 801 Ostrum, 2.1, 45 mins.

Muhlenberg, 2545 Schoenersville Rd., 2.3 mi., 47 mins.


Family, 3445 High Point Blvd, 3.1 mi., 1 hr-5 mins.

Specialist, 1469 8th Ave., 1.1 mi, 23 mins.

Dentist, 4887 Hanoverville Rd., 4.7 mi., 1hr-36 mins.

Eye, 800 Eaton Ave., .8 mi., 18 mins.

Gadfly would rate his walkability pretty good. A good many of his contact points are walkable. And he is 4 mins. from a bus stop that will get him to important farther flung locations.

The keystone to his walkability was being able to walk to work, which he did (and bus), for almost 50 years. That enabled him to be a one-car family all those years. He has never owned two cars. He joked about being the last one-car family in North America.

Unfortunately, close walkable destinations west — like to Wawa and the eye and heart doctors — are hampered by lack of sidewalks on Elizabeth Ave. down the Paint Mill hill and up Schoenersville. Boo!

Unfortunately, his family doctor and dentist  — who were just .2 mi away — heard the siren call of Sprawl and are not even reachable now by bus. He should fix their wagons by changing practices.

This is an interesting exercise. Gadfly recommends trying it.

But the personal insight is that though he is positioned pretty well for walkability, Gadfly doesn’t always take advantage (and it is an advantage: health, money, climate action benefit, etc.).

Gadfly is going to try to put even more walking in his life.

Gadfly invites you to share a few clips of your reading  — with or without comment — or a few thoughts from your reading pertinent to the Gadfly project of the good conversation about Bethlehem that builds community.

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