From TIGER to Audit Instruments: Using GIS-Based Street Data to Measure Neighborhood Walkability

Transportation Research Board

"The relationship between urban form and pedestrian mobility is an area of increasing policy interest within the planning, transportation, environmental, and public health fields. Many municipalities are seeking to adopt variations of "Smart Growth" principles that seek, in part, to increase pedestrian choice in an urban environment. This paper explores how the path network around key urban destinations can be visually and quantitatively analyzed in order to provide useful planning and evaluation tools for these pedestrian-oriented environments. The neighborhood environment surrounding transit stops and schools are used as examples of how to visualize and quantify local walkable environments. Three key GIS-based techniques are presented: street network classification, pedestrian catchment areas, and intersection intensities. While such measures have been used elsewhere to some extent, this paper includes the idea of impedance, a method to help distinguish between auto-oriented and pedestrian-oriented areas. A series of GIS-based qualitative visualization and quantitative analyses are presented, as are some basic steps on conducting the analyses within a GIS environment. A discussion of key data sources, including TIGER street data and new pedestrian audit instruments, are also presented as different ways to assess local walkability."

Filed in: Engineering, Plans and Policies

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