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Walkability and Pedestrian Facilities in Asian Cities State and Issues

Walkability and Pedestrian Facilities in Asian Cities State and Issues

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The study provides information on the current pedestrian infrastructure in selected cities that can be used to develop and propose pedestrian-focused solutions for Asian cities.
The study provides information on the current pedestrian infrastructure in selected cities that can be used to develop and propose pedestrian-focused solutions for Asian cities.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Asian Development Bank on Apr 16, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Future assessments of walking environments and infrastructure in Asian cities must be
conducted. The objective is not only to assess more cities and more areas within the cities
but also to assess cities through time so as to monitor how they are progressing. The conduct

46 | ADB Sustainable Development Working Paper Series No. 17

of this study resulted in specific recommendations on how the walkability assessment
methodology can be improved and thus produce more accurate ratings. The specific
recommendations are


Results that better reflect the overall status of walkability in the cities may be
achieved if area subclassifications are utilized in the survey area selection
process. The subclassification may be based on economic characteristics of
the areas such as income levels and other such parameters. For example,
residential areas may be further classified into high-income residential, middle-
income residential, and low-income residential areas, but the definitions of these
subcategories need to be clearly defined. Future studies can survey at least one
area for each subcategory in each city to lessen the bias created by selecting
areas that are already perceived to have good walking environments.


A more detailed assessment approach may utilize the application of different sets
of parameters and rating criteria in assessing different street subclassifications in
different area types. This allows for more context-sensitive assessments and
analyses. For example, a commercial boulevard and a residential street differ
immensely in terms of their characteristics as well as in their functions, and
therefore different sets of criteria must be used in assessing the walkability of these
two types of streets.31

The challenge lies in identifying the proper parameters and
criteria for rating these parameters for the different street subclassifications in each
area type.


The inclusion of additional quantitative parameters in future studies such as the
effective width of footpaths, walking time, and detour factors would be ideal.32
The effective width is a ratio of the actual width of the footpaths compared with
the usable width within the footpaths. The volume of pedestrians, combined with
the data on effective width, can be used in determining the level of service of the
footpaths. The walking time refers to the actual amount of time it takes a
pedestrian to get from one point to another and should take into account crossing
times, directness, and other factors. The “detour” factor is the ratio of the walking
distance to the straight-line distance in a major origin–destination route, and
indicates the additional effort being exerted by pedestrians in going from the
origin to the destination. These factors are seen to be useful in terms of providing
data that are more comparable for different cities.
(iv) However, it should be noted that qualitative descriptors should be taken into
account when analyzing the quantitative factors. For example, a lower effective
width may not necessary be undesirable, as a footpath’s width may be reduced
by pedestrian facilities and/or amenities such as benches; the importance of
walking times depends on the purpose of the pedestrians, as people also walk to
spend time, not only to save time; a higher detour factor would not necessarily be
negative, as walking the additional distance may be pleasant for the pedestrians,
especially in areas that are conducive to walking. Again, putting these factors into
context is very important.


The Abu Dhabi Urban Street Manual defines a boulevard to be a high-vehicle priority street with three lanes in each
direction, while a street is a low-vehicle priority street with one lane in each direction.


Existing pedestrian guidelines can be used in applying a more quantitative approach in assessing walkability by
benchmarking the different quantitative parameters against what is recommended by these guidelines.

Walkability and Pedestrian Facilities in Asian Cities| 47


The range of the ratings for the parameters in the walkability surveys (currently
1–5) must be expanded (for example, to 1–10) to accentuate the differences
between the walking environments of the cities. This would also allow the general
public to better visualize the walking areas based on their ratings.
(vi) For the pedestrian interviews, a general guide on the sampling method should be
developed for the researchers. Also, the pedestrian interview form should be
reviewed to include important details such as “trip purpose” in the travel
characteristics section.
(vii) Overall, the field survey methodology needs to be refined to achieve better
comparability of results across the different cities and to lessen the subjectivity of
the assessment. A more detailed assessment of the pedestrian facilities based
on available guidelines that are applicable to the developing Asian context is also
needed. The pedestrian preference interviews must be improved as well, to
capture more information. Also, making this survey available online would be a
good way to gather more information from people across Asia.

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