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Planning for walkability

Investigate tools that are used to assess the walkability of a city.
Aerial view of the cathedral square crowded with people in the old town of Strasbourg city, France
© RMIT Europe and EIT Urban Mobility

The walkability and liveability of an area can be measured using geospatial software and mapping techniques such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) analysis. Once measured, maps and summaries can be produced to understand which areas of a city are walkability or not.

The Australian Urban Observatory

The Australian Urban Observatory is an online digital platform that measures the liveability of Australia’s 21 largest cities and includes measures of walkability. The maps show the areas of cities that are more walkable than others and highlights where improvements can be made through policy, urban planning and development.

Detailed walkability assessments can show which aspects of walkability need to change. For example, an area might have low density, or be lacking in destinations or public transport. Maps can show how the street configuration may hinder the walkability of an area. Areas with long curvilinear streets tend to be less walkable, especially when combined with low density residential areas with few destinations to walk to. Walkability assessments can also show where destinations are lacking.

Image by ElinaVeresk via Envato Elements.

As explained on step 1.5, walkability is linked to more walking and the health of residents in more walkable areas. Understanding the health impacts of walking and active travel can be measured and valued as a way of advocating for city-wide improvements.

Tools

Tools that achieve this include:

These tools take physical activity estimates and convert them to health benefits as a way to demonstrate the impact that more walking can have on population wide health. Some of these tools also convert health benefits into monetary values for use in cost-benefit analyses and to facilitate decision-making.

Further resources

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

Linking objectively measured physical activity with objectively measured urban form: findings from SMARTRAQ

Shifting car travel to active modes to improve population health and achieve transport goals: A simulation study

© RMIT Europe and EIT Urban Mobility
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Designing Walkability in Cities

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