Measuring Walkability

Everybody walks. To access public transport, to go shopping around the corner or simply for a leisurely stroll, walking is an indispensable mode of transport in cities. But while more elaborate tools and guidelines have been set in place for the planning of roads and public transport, many cities have started to embrace walkability only recently.


Embracing Walkability from FCL on Vimeo.


Most people refer to walkability as how far you can go and what can be reached within a 5 or 10-minute walk. However, walkability is not only about the distance to daily amenities. The quality of the urban environment has a tremendous impact on how people perceive walking and directly influences people in their decisions whether to go on foot or take a car or other means of transport.


The collaboration between the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and Future Cities Laboratory explores (FCL) what people value when walking in Singapore’s dense city centre and tropical climate, to enable planners to better plan for walkability.


The Mobility and Transportation Planning team in FCL combines detailed information on the pedestrian environment with observations of actual behaviour and dedicated surveys to find out what affects walking behaviour and how it is affected. Based on these findings, a Walkability Index is created to measure how useful, comfortable and interesting it is to walk. Summarised findings on this part of the research can be found in this set of slides.


The newly developed Pedestrian Accessibility Tool provides planners with a ArcGIS Add-in to assess how walkable Singapore is today and to evaluate various plans and strategies to improve walkability in the city centre and beyond.


The video below shows how to setup a scenario in ArcGIS and applying the tool to compute a walkshed from a selected point of origin. The tool then computes the perceived walking time to all other points in the network up to a predefined threshold and indicates which destinations can be reached.


Pedestrian Accessibility Tool from FCL on Vimeo.


The animation below illustrates how the Pedestrian Accessibility Tool is used in a case study to evaluate the impact of replacing a pedestrian overhead bridge with a conventional zebra crossing and compare the walksheds for the two scenarios.