Walk score® and its potential contribution to the study of active transport and walkability: A critical and systematic review

The Walk Score® index has become increasingly applied in studies of walking and walkability. The index assesses the “walking potential” of a place through a combination of three elements: the shortest distance to a group of preselected destinations, the block length, and the intersection density around the origin. The Index links a gravity-based measure (distance accessibility), with topological accessibility (street connectivity) measured by two complementary indicators that act as penalties in the final score (linearly expanded in the range 0–100). A systematic review of Scopus® and Web of Science® was conducted with 42 journal articles eventually being evaluated. Research was primarily undertaken in North American urban geographies. Analysis of walkability using Walk Score® is inconsistent. Twenty-nine papers do not exclusively relying on Walk Score® as a single measurement of walkability and add further estimates to better capture the multiple dimensions of walkability. In 33 studies the Walk Score® was used as an independent variable, and only once as a mediating-moderating variable. In eight papers (18%) the Walk Score® was a part of a bivariate correlation model. On no occasion was it used as a dependent variable. Results tend to only partly support the validity of Walk Score®. The paper concludes that the Index is best understood as a surrogate measure of the density of the built environment of a specific neighborhood that indicates utilitarian walking potential. Implications for, and potential areas of, future research are discussed.


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  • Accession Number: 01675461
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 19 2018 2:45PM