Caltrans Districts and their Walkscores

Have you ever wondered if your state transportation planners know anything personally about riding public transportation or riding a bike to the office?

Employee parking dominates at “Car Dependent” Caltrans District 10 office in Stockton, CA.


Sidewalk bike racks are available in front of Caltrans District 7 in Los Angeles, which boasts a 98 “Walkers Paradise” score.

The Project for Public Spaces did a fun little project in which they looked up the Walkscores for the 50 state Departments of Transportation. Their thesis: transportation planners are completely car and highway oriented in their thinking because that’s all they know. This is reinforced by the location of DOT offices in completely car dependent locations.

The state DOT headquarters for several states, they discovered, are located in areas that Walkscore deems “Car Dependent.” It’s perhaps not too surprising that these states — Maryland, Alaska, Arkansas, Alabama, Illinois, Louisiana, and Nebraska — devote only token attention to transportation design for anybody who doesn’t want to own a car or truck.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) Office in downtown Sacramento scored a reasonable 85, which Walkscore calls “Very Walkable,” and it is. California’s state offices are located close to several amenities and bus and transit lines.

Caltrans divides their administration, planning and operations into twelve regional districts, with a large amount of autonomy within each District.

I thought I’d look at the Caltrans district offices and their Walkscores. Here’s what I found, listed in order from worst to best.

District & Counties Address Walkscore Comments
10 – Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, Mariposa, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tuolumne 1976 East Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Stockton CA. 43 “Car Dependent”
6 – Madera, Fresno, Tulare, Kings, Kern 1352 W. Olive Ave, Fresno, CA. 51 “Somewhat Walkable”
12 – Orange 3347 Michelson Drive, Irvine, CA. 60 “Somewhat Walkable”
9 – Inyo, Mono 500 South Main Street, Bishop CA. 62 “Somewhat Walkable”
5 – Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz 50 Higuera Street, San Luis Obispo, CA. 68 “Somewhat Walkable”
11 – Imperial, San Diego 4050 Taylor Street, San Diego CA. 74 “ Very Walkable”
3 – Butte, Colusa, El Dorado, Glenn, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, Sierra, Sutter, Yolo,Yuba 703 B Street, Marysville, CA. 78 “Very Walkable”
1 – Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino 1656 Union Street, Eureka, CA. 80 “Very Walkable”
2 – Lassen, Modoc, Plumas, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama, Trinity; portions of Butte and Sierra 1657 Riverside Drive, Redding, CA. 86 “Very Walkable”
8 – Riverside, San Bernardino 464 W. 4th St, San Bernardino, CA. 89 “Very Walkable”
4 – Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma 111 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA. 95 “Walker’s Paradise.” Walkscore also brags this location features “Excellent Transit” and is a “Biker’s Paradise.”
7 – Los Angeles, Ventura 100 South Main Street, Los Angeles, CA. 98 “Walker’s Paradise.” Also has a perfect 100 TransitScore and scores as “Very Bikable.”

What do you think? Do these Caltrans District Walkscores reveal anything?

3 Comments

  • April 10, 2013 - 11:08 am | Permalink

    I think it does matter. And although I’ve heard criticism of Walkscore for rating some areas higher than they should, it’s a good relative criteria.

    If you live and work in an area that requires driving it skews your decision-making toward that mode. If planners actually take transit, walk or bike, or have close friends that do it means they’re more sympathetic to those needs. The thought process can go from “almost nobody walks there” to “we need to provide pedestrian access” to “pedestrians need a wide sidewalk and shouldn’t have to wait more than 60 seconds to cross.”

  • LHT
    April 11, 2013 - 10:46 am | Permalink

    I agree with Ladyfleur, I think it matters, too. Living and commuting via multi-modal transportation options has to influence the way you see the world, and what’s needed to support that. On a personal note…it’s another reason why I won’t leave the bay area. We’re in a bubble here, and I like it!

  • Alai
    April 12, 2013 - 12:11 am | Permalink

    If you’re going to use Walkscore in an article, make sure you use StreetSmart walkscore (it’s an option down the page). This actually looks at walking distance, not just distance as the bird flies, and it’s much more accurate.

    For example:

    10 drops from 43 to 23
    6 rises from 51 to 65
    12 drops from 60 to 39

    1 goes from 80 to 83

    4 goes from 95 to 98
    7 drops from 98 to 97

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