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Location, quality and connectivity

How is land use mix a key factor in determining the walkability of a local area?
Profile of woman in dress and sunglasses with handbag smiling on a city street corner with road and buildings blurred in background
© RossHelen via Envato Elements.

Land use mix is a key factor determining the walkability of a local area. The actual location of destination points, such as shops and social infrastructure, is so important.

Land use mix

The land use mix, or land zoning, is important in supporting walkability as residential zones need to be connected to commercial zones to ensure there are local destinations, ideally within 800m of residential households.

To be successful there also needs to be enough people living in the local area that want to buy and use local shops and services. This is often common in established, compact and connected European cities but less common in newer developments in American and Australian cities that haven’t been developed according to the planning principles of:

  • connectivity
  • diversity
  • density.

Walkability across Europe

Not all European cities are highly walkable. In a recent assessment of walkable cities, the cities of western Europe rated highest with a number of German cities at the top of the rankings, while a number of cities in the UK were ranked towards the bottom of the list.

Halle (Saale), Germany. A number of German cities at the top of the rankings for walkability. Image by bbsferrari via Envato Elements.

Cities at the bottom of the walkability rankings have suburban street patterns, zoning and car dependence that haven’t embraced density, diversity and connectivity in their planning.

Your task

Consider your own local urban community and describe the land use mix and level of success it has in promoting walkability. What are the main elements of success? Is there a common theme? Add your ideas in the comments below.

Further resources

If you would like to explore some of the concepts we have covered in more detail, the following resources are optional.

Using spatial measures to test a conceptual model of social infrastructure that supports health and wellbeing

Does the presence and mix of destinations influence walking and physical activity?

Global microscale walkability ratings and rankings: A novel composite indicator for 59 European city centres

© RMIT Europe and EIT Urban Mobility
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Designing Walkability in Cities

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