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Walkability measures how well the design of a neighborhood enables pedestrian mobility. When daily errands (e.g., school, work, transit) are walkable, it encourages us to be physically active and reduces our reliance on cars; thereby improving our physical health and reducing air pollution and carbon emissions.
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Transcript: Hi, I’m a walkable community. My name only includes walking, but this doesn’t include my full character – I’m bikeable, close to transit, less polluted and just generally friendlier and safer to be in. I’m here for everyone! What makes me walkable are three things: street intersection density (the ability to get across and through streets easily), proximity to transit stops (how easy it is to not have to depend on a car), and diversity of land uses (how close things are that you need in your everyday life). Walkability dictates how much of the urban environment is dedicated to car infrastructure, such as parking lots. Greater walkability opens opportunities for everyone to not have to depend on a car to get around easily and safely. Walkability increases physical activity by allowing people to use active modes of transportation (walking, biking, transit) and reduces air pollution by reducing the number of cars on the road. Walking also reduces cardiovascular disease, reduces respiratory disease, reduces metabolic disease, and reduces mortality. Through decades of unjust planning practices, such as disinvestment and urban renewal, the walkability of neighborhoods varies widely, even within the same city. Moving forward, we must ensure that everyone has access to healthy and vibrant neighborhoods!


Walkability is defined as the quality in which a built environment enables the mobility of pedestrians. It is measured through different variables, including pedestrian sidewalks, accessibility to amenities, and environmental conditions. How walkable a place is varies based on where a community is in the country. Walkability is a very important component for urban planning because it can help improve health, livability, and sustainability. Increasing walkability can also reduce dependency on cars for daily transportation, helping to reduce air pollution and carbon emissions, and improve overall health through increased physical activity.

Human Health Mechanism

Walkable neighborhoods make it easier to walk to stores, schools, jobs, and other places in a community, encouraging people to be more physically active. This helps keep people healthier by mitigating the onset of chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and depression.

Indicator Measurement

The US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) collects walkability data at the block group level, assigning a National Walkability Index score to each census block group, which is geographic unit smaller than a census tract, but larger than a census block. The National Walkability Index is based on measures of the built environment that affect the probability of whether people walk as a mode of transportation: street intersection density, proximity to transit stops, and diversity of land uses.

Source of Exposures

Infrastructure features that determine the walkability of a neighborhood include the closeness of destination points, sidewalks, crosswalks, streetlights, presence of greenness and parks, commercial retail, and proximity to transit stations.

Related Health Outcomes & Exposures

Greenness, Obesity, Physical Inactivity, Diabetes


Click here for References
  1. Walkability Data Source: US EPA. Smart Location Mapping: National Walkability Index. Data Year February 27, 2019. Accessed April 2023.
  2. Baobeid A, Koç M, Al-Ghamdi SG. Walkability and its relationships with health, sustainability, and livability: Elements of physical environment and evaluation frameworks. Frontiers in Built Environment. 2021;7. doi:10.3389/fbuil.2021.721218
  3. Brittin J, Sorensen D, Trowbridge M, et al. Physical activity design guidelines for school architecture. PLOS ONE. 2015;10(7). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0132597
  4. US EPA. Smart Location Mapping. Published February 27, 2014. Accessed October 15, 2023.