Predicting Walkability

Mon a.m. late

Abstract Remit

Quantifying the quality of the walking environment is possible using the NZTA Community Street Review methodology but the required resources to undertake citywide surveys are significant.  Practically speaking, it is unrealistic to consider a local authority would undertake large area or citywide surveys.  The problem is if a local authority doesn’t understand the quality of their walking network, they may not be able to identify areas that are affecting suppressed demand, links that reduce the overall environmental success of an area, or specific elements that might be easily fixed to improve the liveability of a city or town.  

Rather, if practitioners could quantify the quality of the walking network using engineering measurement such as the width of footpath, gradient, number of hiding places, greenery and surveillance etc, it is expected that predicted walkability could more easily be created, and a large area or city wide assessment be undertaken for reasonable cost.  This would enable the walking network to be assessed and if measured correctly, managed correctly thereby making best use of resources.   

This presentation describes the research Abley Transportation Consultants and Beca Infrastructure are undertaking on behalf of the New Zealand Transport Authority.  The research will create a number of mathematical models that infer perceptions surveys based on certain physical and operational variables.  This does not mean mathematical models are preferable to actual surveys; rather they are a practical alternative where perception surveys over large areas would be expensive.  This research builds on the previous work undertaken by Living Streets Aotearoa and Abley Transportation Consultants through the creation of the Community Street Review methodology and the collection of operational and physical variables collection work stored at

Steve’s presentation will describe the process, resources and opportunities for use and development of the predictive equations and how these tools could be applied at a town and city large scale.  This presentation will be of interest to local authorities who consider the measurement of walking networks important to provide a sustainable transportation system and the prioritisation of funding within those networks.  

Author Profile

Steve Abley is the Managing Director of Abley Transportation Consultants.  He has a Bachelor of (Civil) Engineering with Honours Degree from the University of Canterbury and is a Chartered Professional Engineer.  Steve has a strong interest in sustainable transport including walking, cycling and public transport.  Abley Transportation Consultants is often commissioned in these areas and the firm regularly undertakes practical research for furthering practitioner knowledge.  Steve has worked in various countries, is a Professional Member of the Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) and a national IPENZ governing board member.

Organisation or Business: 
Abley Transportation Consultancy
Document Type: 
Steve Abley
Session or Keynote: 

About Us

Living Streets Aotearoa is the New Zealand organisation for people on foot, promoting walking-friendly communities. We are a nationwide organisation with local branches and affiliates throughout New Zealand.

We want more people walking and enjoying public spaces be they young or old, fast or slow, whether walking, sitting, commuting, shopping, between appointments, or out on the streets for exercise, for leisure or for pleasure.

JOIN US and help with our campaigns