Why I never lived on Queen Anne Hill

In 2007, when I returned to Seattle after 6 months of guest doctoral studies, my tastes in apartments had changed, influenced by the higher density and smaller living areas in Stockholm, as well as hardwood floors and other features of “older” construction. This basically narrowed the neighborhoods down to Capitol Hill, Ballard, the U District, and Lower Queen Anne.

In the end, I didn’t live in any of these. The reasons are many, of course, but one of the main ones was that bicycling to the University was complicated by the hills, bridges, and other obstacles, and I was dead set on bicycling.

Now Sightline Institute has just followed up their popular WalkScore online tool with a BikeScore tool, which displays both a sort of “generalized bikeability” map of a city, or a destination-specific range of bikeability, indeed taking into account network connectivity and hills. The figure at right shows the 20-minute bicycling range from the University. Indeed, Ballard is well out to the west and Capitol Hill is mostly out to the south. Most interestingly, Lower Queen Anne, which has some quite interesting old apartment buildings, sits right there in the dark corner to the southwest. This matches my mental map of the area, in that Queen Anne — although not so far as the crow flies — is rather inaccessible by bicycle, due to a combination of lake, hill, and Highway 99. Well done, Sightline, you’ve validated my eventual decision to live in Wallingford.

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