Walk Tall!

Field Walkability Survey

The field walkability survey assesses pedestrian infrastructure in four areas (commercial, residential, educational, and public transport terminals).

For each, areas with high pedestrian volume are selected based on preparatory surveys and consultation with local stakeholders.

Complete route assessments were conducted by following logical pedestrian routes in the specific areas linking origins to destinations.

In order to facilitate comparisons among cities, the field survey used a uniform rating system for nine qualitative parameters (Table 1). Complete route assessments were conducted to provide a holistic overview that links design and execution to user perception and the built environment.

Field surveyors are asked to rate the selected road stretches from 1 to 5 for each parameter (1 being the lowest, 5 being the highest) in each of the area types. The averages for each of the parameters are translated into a rating system from 0 (lowest score) to 100 (highest score). Walkability ratings in the different area types in each city are derived by taking the average of the individual parameters’ averages. The final city walkability ratings are derived by averaging the walkability ratings in the different area types in each city.

This method of deriving a “Walkability Rating” differs from the Global Walkability Index as the latter takes into account the number of people walking (pedestrian count) during the time of the survey and the length of the stretch being surveyed. The revised methodology documents street lengths and pedestrian counts but excludes these two factors from the walkability rating to eliminate the inherent bias generated by the number of people walking on a certain stretch and its length. For example, a stretch with adequate infrastructure and very high pedestrian traffic should not receive a higher rating than a high-quality stretch with low pedestrian traffic. Utilization by itself should not be used as a parameter to assess the walkability of a certain area because it penalizes good areas with lower utilization rates. Current levels of pedestrian traffic are more useful in identifying priority areas for improvement (e.g. areas with high pedestrian traffic but with low walkability ratings). This argument also holds true for distance. A relatively short but high quality stretch of footpath should not be penalized because it is shorter.

One of the limitations of the field surveys is the subjectivity of responses as it influenced by the surveyor, especially in this study that involved different organizations and individuals to carry out the surveys. There needs to be a balance between accuracy, simplicity and resources availability. This methodology adopted is cheap and simple but less accurate when compared with many quantitative methodologies, even though other methodologies make surveys more expensive. What is important to keep in mind is that the results need to give a clear enough indication as to where main weaknesses exist in the current pedestrian infrastructure, facilities and supporting policies and institutional set up, so that actions for improvement can be selected.

Download the Field Walkability Survey Form here.


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