Articles | Volume 5
30 May 2024
 | 30 May 2024

Developing a city-specific walkability index through a participatory approach

Matias Cardoso, Vasileios Milias, and Maurice Harteveld

Keywords: Walkability, Active Mobility, Built Environment, Participatory, Q methodology

Abstract. The extent to which the built environment encourages people to walk in public spaces, hence the quality of being walkable or ‘walkability’ has long been associated with positive outcomes on people’s health. While various studies have developed indices to assess walkability, limited attention has been given to indices that reflect the influence of specific city characteristics on walkability. This study showcases the development of a city-specific walkability index through a participatory approach using Amsterdam as a case study. It explores the viewpoints of urban designers and policy-makers who work or reside in Amsterdam on what constitutes a walkable street and identifies the most significant walkability factors for Amsterdam. These factors are then quantified based on open-access datasets and integrated into a street-level weighted walkability index. The resulting walkability index underscores the importance of factors such as traffic and crime safety, quality of the pedestrian infrastructure, and proximity to public amenities in shaping residents’ decisions to walk in specific public spaces. Finally, this research underscores the importance of involving individuals through participatory methods, considering subjective perspectives, and acknowledging shared experiences within particular groups and spaces when assessing walkability.