Towards a 'Walkability' Index

Towards a 'Walkability' Index


T Stonor, M B de Arruda, A Chiaradia, S Takamatsu Space Syntax Ltd; A Smith, Transport for London, UK



The Space Syntax research group at University College London has been developing pedestrian movement models for over 25 years. These have been used to design some of London?s most successful new public spaces and pedestrian connections. In 2001, Space Syntax was commissioned by Transport for London (TfL) to investigate the development of a "Walkability Index?, a tool to help TfL meet the mayor of London?s aim to make London the ?most walkable city by 2015.? This paper will present the findings of the work to date and speculate on its future direction. The aims of establishing a Walkability Index are: i) to identify the factors that influence the degree of usage by pedestrians of a particular piece of footway, ii) to establish which of these factors can be controlled and affected by walking policy, design and implementation, iii) to rank the various factors according to their degree of influence, and iv) to develop an objective evaluation methodology to form walking policy that responds as far as possible to the various factors, and which prioritises those factors which affect walkability more.

The Walkability Index study has built on the findings of over 200 previous studies carried out by Space Syntax over the past 5 years. These have examined how patterns of pedestrian movement are influenced by physical design variables ranging from the spatial configuration of the movement network to footway quality, width and gradient.

In the majority of these studies, pedestrian movement data were collected and correlated with the physical design variables.

In developing the Walkability Index, 17 factors have been analysed. The study has identified different degrees of importance among the different factors. Some, such as footway quality and proximity of walking to road traffic, appear to have little or no overall influence, notwithstanding certain localised effects. Others, including lighting, footway width, footway gradient, weather, proximity to transport facilities or signage show a higher degree of importance. However, five elements have demonstrated highly significant results. They are: ?footway accessibility? (measured using new computer models developed at UCL), ground level activity (land use), pedestrian crossing design, traffic signal phasing and time of the day. The Walkability Index is being further developed through ongoing application to projects in cities including Edinburgh and Colchester.


Association for European Transport