07 August 2007

Beat the Heat

I have been out in the heat today for two hours, and it is not pleasant. One way to beat the heat is to stay indoors and hit the web. I have a trio of websites that could provide (at least) a few hours of entertainment.

First up is an EPA document entitled “Parking Spaces /Community Places, Finding the Balance through Smart Growth Solutions.” I came across this particular document via the Planetizen website. Planetizen is a huge resource. Take some time to check out their space too. Anyway, the picture of the mall in Olympia, Washington looks quite similar to our mall. Follow the link to the EPA paper! It is an interesting read for those who are concerned about automobile dominance in downtown Columbia.

Next up is a website that will measure the walk-ability of your neighborhood. Just type in the address, and the website begins to populate the local attractions using Google. The site then ranks the walk-ability on a scale of 0-100, and lists the local attractions on the left hand side. After using this website for a little while, I noticed it is only as accurate as the amenities listed in Google. There are some places I have never heard of, and some recent additions that have not made it onto Google yet. Full addresses are not needed. You can omit house numbers, or even streets. An interesting comparison of the Columbia Zip Codes is worth doing. For those who believe downtown is super pedestrian friendly, the address of the Columbia Association headquarters yields a score of 85 (very walkable), but I believe that they intend for folks to walk to Food Lion for groceries. Most neighborhoods in Columbia dwell in the middle twenties.

Lastly, a little bit of censusphile fun. A new website called Social Explorer allows the user to browse data, presented in map form, from the 1940’s to present day. You can zoom in to Howard County or even Columbia to see how population, average age, housing, poverty, etc has changed over time. It is well worth a look.

Well, that’s all I have for keeping occupied while the sun is up, happy exploring, and let me know what you think!

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