Global microscale walkability ratings and rankings: A novel composite indicator for 59 European city centres

Alexandros Bartzokas-Tsiompras, Efthimios Bakogiannis, Alexandros Nikitas

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Several walkability studies have focused primarily on macro-level environmental factors. Nevertheless, previous research has shown that street-level design can also support walking. In this paper, we present a novel Microscale Walkability Index, ‘MWI’, that measures, ranks, and analyses the pedestrian-friendliness levels of 59 heterogeneous city centres in 26 European countries. We selected 26 case studies from European capitals and 33 city centres from metropolitan areas of regional or national importance and with >500.000 inhabitants. The conceptual framework is based on the Microscale Audit of Pedestrian Streetscapes tool, while the final scores were synthesised by aggregating three comparative benchmarking dimensions: sidewalk environment (SE), pedestrian crossings (PC), and streetscape level (SL). We used OECD's multivariate statistical analysis concept as well as an empirically aggregated indicator dataset that contained street inventories of city centres, combined with observations from Google Street View of a total of 112.000 segments/crossings and 17 urban design topics. Results showed that the five most pedestrian-friendly city centres are Barcelona, Bilbao, Oslo, Zurich, and Paris, whereas Bucharest, Athens, Sofia, Plovdiv, and Palermo are ranked last. Mann-Whitney tests showed significant differences in average microscale walkability rankings, when cities had higher GDP per capita, a higher proportion of walking/cycling and better sustainability performance. This study paves the way for future spatially dissagregated walkability approaches using multi-level models and recommends greater policy support for improving pedestrian facilities in less developed city centres in Southern/Eastern Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103645
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Transport Geography
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2023

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