Academic journal article URISA Journal

Walkability: A Review of Existing Pedestrian Indices

Academic journal article URISA Journal

Walkability: A Review of Existing Pedestrian Indices

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Several studies in the past decade have investigated the effect of the built environment on walking in the community (Ball et al. 2001, Booth et al. 2000, CDC 2001, Troped et al. 2001, Handy et al. 2002, and Greenwald and Boarnet 2002). Along with other sociopsychological factors, various environmental correlates have been identified that influence walking in general (Sallis et al. 1999, Sallis et al. 1997, Giles-Corti and Donovan 2002a, CDC 2001, Brownson et al. 2001, Giles-Corti and Donovan 2002b, Saelens et al. 2003a, and Pikora et al. 2003). Although these studies indicate that walking trips are influenced by the characteristics of the neighborhood, a comprehensive list of built-environment constructs that influence walking still remains to be investigated. It is important to identify this comprehensive list of variables because using them can significantly add to the regression models of walking beyond sociodemographic variables (Kockelman 1997, Frank and Pivo 1994, Kitamura, Mokhtarian, and Laidet 1997). It is also important because only a few variables of the built environment have been empirically analyzed for their impact on walking in communities and the need for comprehensive and detailed environmental measures is essential (Clifton et al. 2007, Kwon et al. 1998, Painter 1996). This study, therefore, develops a comprehensive list of environmental measures that have been either perceived or empirically tested to have an association with walking. We then categorize the measures into built-environmental constructs and develop a normative framework for future studies.

Recent studies that reviewed the existing literature for the comprehensive and detailed environmental measures (Moudon and Lee 2003 and Clifton et al. 2007) examined the existing audit instruments, the level of service indicators, the indices, and the checklist among others that are associated with both walking and biking. For instance, the study by Moudon and Lee (2003) reviewed the measures associated with both walking and biking. Although several environmental measures show similar relationships with both walking and biking, they are not exactly the same. Thus, it is important to identify the measures individually for walking and biking. The study by Clifton et al. (2007) reviewed only the recent pedestrian audits. This study extends the knowledge of identifying the constructs associated with walking by reviewing only the existing pedestrian indices. Such a review has never been conducted and it is imperative to do so for two reasons. First, while audits measure the quantity of the built environment associated with walking, indices and levels of service rank the location segment or an area as "less or most suitable to walk." These indices and levels of service use a single aggregate value determined from the measures of the built environment evaluated through audits, GIS, and other objective and/or subjective assessments of the built environment. Therefore, an index extends the quantification using audits and assigns a suitability value for walking in the community. Second, as mentioned earlier, although several built-environment constructs report similar relationships with walking and biking, they are not the same. Therefore, it is important to identify what specific constructs of the built environment were used specifically to measure the suitability to walk by reviewing the pedestrian indices alone. This can help identify the constructs that have been either spuriously included or excluded in earlier studies and thus can inform future studies for better assessment s of walking. A similar study with all the biking-related indices can be performed to identify the comprehensive and detailed measures of biking in communities.

This study reviewed 25 pedestrian indices (Bradshaw 1993; Bandara et al. 1994; Khisty 1994; Dixon 1996; City of Portland 1998; Portland Pedestrian Master Plan 1998; Milazzo 1999; Allan 2001; USDOT; Landis et al. …

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