Measuring the walkability of an area or route means understanding the ease by which pedestrians can move around. There are many different methods to measuring walkability using desktop analysis, on-site assessment or through pedestrians’ experiences.

A desktop assessment of walkability is appropriate for assessing the connectivity and design adequacy of new facilities that are being built. A major drawback of desktop analysis is that it fails to consider the actual circumstances pedestrians encounter. It disregards issues such as debris, ponding, the sense of personal security, temporary obstructions, inconsistent signage and irregular surfaces, although all may affect pedestrians.

On-site assessments of walkability can involve practitioners asking pedestrians for their perceptions, or the use of assessment criteria to measure or score various aspects. Assessments involving pedestrians consist of checklists and rating systems against which pedestrians rate their own experience as they travel along the route. This means assessments are subjective and results can vary according to individuals’ abilities and confidence, and the prevailing conditions. To minimise bias, the same route can be assessed using different pedestrians at different times, including during hours of darkness.

Additionally, customer tests with people who do not normally use a space can inform how to better cater for those who are excluded. Asking pedestrians to take pictures to document their feedback can also help understand their perception. The complexity of the checklist used may vary but should be tailored to match the characteristics of the pedestrians undertaking the assessment.

Person with wheelchair through a construction site thoroughfare

A layperson street review of pedestrian provision through a road construction site, Christchurch (Glen Koorey)

Various methods can be used to assess walkability and pedestrian level of service of an existing environment or proposed projects or schemes. A summary of the following methods is provided in the following table document. Information such as when to use each method, its strengths and weaknesses and links to further guidance on each method is provided in the table.

Table: Area wide and pre-design walkability methods [PDF, 244 KB]


Methods include:

  • Walking audit
  • Community Street Reviews
  • Predicting walkability
  • Pedestrian Level of Service Assessment Tool
  • Healthy Streets Check for Designers
  • Healthy Streets Survey
  • Public Life Tools
  • Walk Score
  • Accessibility Assessment
  • Connectivity Assessment
  • Street Accessibility Audit
  • Pedestrian Environment Review System (PERS)
  • Valuing the Urban Realm Toolkit
  • State of Place

Further information on methods to audit or review projects from concept to post construction is provided under Reviews and audits.

PNG: Reviews and audits

Note that detailed guidance on carrying out a Connectivity Assessment or Street Accessibility Audit is provided below as information on these methods is not available elsewhere.

Connectivity assessment

Methods to assess connectivity of a walking network are outlined in the table below.

Table: Ways to assess connectivity [PDF, 128 KB]

Techniques include:

  • Average distance
  • Directness ratio
  • Route density
  • Journey time analysis
  • Walkable catchment or Pedshed analysis
  • Difficulty impedance index

Street Accessibility Audit

A Street Accessibility Audit is a tool for councils and road controlling authorities to have a local street network assessed for deficiencies from the perspective of older and disabled pedestrians. Once the scope of the audit is defined, it involves three steps.

  • An auditor experienced in universal access hosts an engagement session with local people (typically older and disabled people) to identify infrastructure problems that make their local journeys difficult or impossible. Problems are typically limited to mobility parking availability and accessibility, and path and road crossing accessibility. Other issues may also be noted, such as bollards in inconvenient places; drainage or leaf fall problems making routes slippery; or a lack of lighting making journeys uncomfortable.
  • The auditor reviews technical aspects of the street infrastructure to create a list of recommended improvements. Recommendations range from crossfall correction and path rehabilitation, through to the recommended provision of new paths, road crossings, and mobility parking spaces.
  • The auditor prepares a Street Accessibility Audit report for the authority, describing the community of interest; the engagement that informed the audit; and the technical review itself. The report includes an appended, prioritised list of recommended improvements, with indicative costs.

The report recommendations can be incorporated into routine maintenance planning, and/or can be addressed with one-off budgets or as part of other transport investment.

Examples of Street Accessibility Audits:

Te Aroha Street Accessibility Audit [PDF, 600 KB] 

Manurewa Town Centre Accessibility Audit(external link)