While the benefits of walking are well understood, the physical design of sidewalks and their maintenance needs generally receive much less attention in both research and practice than the infrastructure used by other modes of transportation. As a result, we know comparatively little about how the design of sidewalks and quality of the overall pedestrian environment affect the decision to walk. In our study we conducted a household travel survey to collect data on walking frequency and attributes related to sidewalk quality and the quality of the walking environment in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We used summary statistics and statistical modeling to identify sidewalk and related infrastructure attributes associated with more walking. Our study results are limited by a smaller than anticipated sample size; however, we are able to reach several conclusions. We find that walking accounts for a larger share of trips than many prior studies, something we attribute to asking respondents to report walking trips for recreation and pleasure. Surveys that only ask about transportation or commuting trips may be underestimating the frequency that the population walks and the importance of pedestrian infrastructure. We also find, as prior studies have, that neighborhood scale land-use characteristics such as density and land-use mix are significant factors in explaining differences in walking. At the infrastructure level, we find that a lack of marked crosswalks where residential streets cross higher volume roads is significantly associated with less walking. We do not find any other significant infrastructure affects, something we attribute to our small sample size. Having sidewalks and maintaining them well was reported by respondents to be most important for encouraging walking.
Rowangould, G., & Corning-Padilla, A. (2019). Evaluating How the Quality of Pedestrian Infrastructure Affects the Choice to Walk. Retrieved from https://repository.lsu.edu/transet_pubs/60