What is Walkonomics?
Walkonomics / plural noun / 1. rating the walkability of streets, neighbourhoods and cities by combining the views of large groups of people, local communities and public data. 2. art of creating streets and urban areas that are pedestrian friendly.
Walkonomics aims to rate the pedestrian-friendliness of every street in the world. By enabling ordinary people and local communities to add a rating of any street, it is hoped that a realistic walkability score will be created for each street. Where available, public datasets are also used to add ratings and provide more quantitative reviews. By harnessing the power of 'crowd-sourcing', social media and open data, Walkonomics aims to become a self-organising system where users correct any inaccuracies or errors in street reviews.
In addition to this, Walkonomics also provides an interactive online space, where local people, government and business can suggest, discuss and create walkability improvements for our streets, neighbourhoods and cities.
What makes a walkable street?
When deciding which factors make a street more or less walkable, a range of existing research was considered. Drawing upon this research, the key factors were combined into eight categories for the Walkonomics rating system:
Road safety: How safe do you feel from traffic on this street? It is influenced by actual road accident statistics (where available), street type, traffic speeds and activity.
Easy to cross: How easy it is to cross the street at regular points along the street? It is influenced by the traffic activity on the street, street width, physical barriers and provision of pedestrian crossings.
Pavements /Sidewalks: Are pavements/sidewalks provided along the street? Are they high quality? Are they wide enough? Do they have a lot of unnecessary clutter/furniture on them? Are they overcrowded?
Hilliness: Is the street flat or on a hill? How steep is any slope? If the street is steep, then are any hand-rails or seats provided?
Navigation: How easy is it to find your way around in this street and area? Is it easy to become lost here? Are any street names, pedestrian signs or maps provided?
Fear of crime: How safe do you feel from crime on this street? It is influenced by actual crime statistics (where available) as well as perceived fear or crime. Other factors include lighting, vandalism, graffiti and presence of police.
Smart and beautiful: How clean is the street? Is there much litter or vandalism? Is it regularly cleaned? Does the street have any trees or other green vegetation? Are the buildings attractive and in good condition?
Fun and relaxing: Is this a fun, interesting and popular place to be? Are there things to do in this street? Would you choose to spend time and hang-out here? Does the street have a relaxing atmosphere? Is it noisy or stressful? Can you play in this street?
What is the WalkoBot?
The WalkoBot is an automatic system that rates the walkability of streets by interpreting public datasets. Many of the streets in the UK and USA have been automatically rated by the WalkoBot using publically available data. Wherever possible the WalkoBot will use current data which is directly related to each rating category.
However in some cases (such as Pavements/Sidewalks) no relevant data exists and for these categories an average score (2.5 stars) is provided. It should always be remembered that the WalkoBot is an automated non-human system and will not get every rating correct. Walkonomics.com cannot guarantee that the WalkoBot rating data is totally free from any errors or inaccuracies.
Much effort is made to ensure that, wherever possible, ratings are based upon accurate data. If you don't agree with the ratings provided by the WalkoBot you can always add your own rating which will affect the overall rating average. Once enough local users have added their ratings, any errors or inaccuracies should be cancelled out.
Who is behind Walkonomics?
Before founding Walkonomics.com, Adam Davies spent over 6 years working to improve the walkability, bikeability and sustainability of streets, neighbourhoods and cities in the UK, Europe and Africa. This included designing and leading over 70 walkability assessments for local communities, government and the private sector and working with these organisations to create more walkable street environments. He has worked with the United Nations, Transport for London, Department for Transport, Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment and the Royal National Institute for the Blind. Adam has also contributed to various innovative pieces of research on 'Shared Space' streets, disabled peoples access, climate change and understanding the links between obesity and the built environment. You can follow him on Twitter.