The Digital Life of Walkable Streets

Written by Adam Davies on . Posted in Architecture, Flickr, FourSquare, London, mapping, Mobile, Open Data, Photography, Research, Smartphones, Social Media, streets, walkability, Yahoo Labs

Unsplash_JayWennington_640px It may be hard to believe, but each day we post over 1.8 billion photos to the internet, thats over 20,000 a second! While many of these are likely to be selfies, there must be many millions of photos of everyday streets and urban places.  Each of these photographs holds valuable data about the qualities of each street, but because this data is in a visual format it can be hard to analyse and make sense of the huge number of images that are being posted to social media every day.

However, in a recent collaboration between Walkonomics and researchers from Yahoo Labs (Daniele QuerciaLuca Maria Aiello and Rossano Schifanella) we have been able to begin to understand what millions of urban street photos can tell us about walkability.

Find the most beautiful walking route to anywhere in your city

Written by Adam Davies on . Posted in Android, apps, Buenos Aires, Glasgow, iPhone, London, Mobile, New York, Open Data, OpenStreetMap, Paris, San Francisco, Toronto, walking, wayfinding

Walkonomics iPhone App - Pedestrian Navigation If you’ve ever used a navigation app to find your way through a city, then its very likely that the app only showed you the fastest route to your destination. Saving time is really important, but what if you could find a route that was fast and improved your mood?

The new updated Walkonomics app for iPhone and Android, can do just that. We’ve added navigation to Walkonomics, that will not only find the fastest walking route, but can also find the most beautiful route to any place in a city. Walkonomics does this by analysing over 1.7 million street trees, thousands of urban parks and over 46,000km of streets and footpaths.

Benchmarking the Walkability of Global Cities

Written by Adam Davies on . Posted in Barcelona, Barriers to walking, Canberra, community participation, Copenhagen, demographics, London, streets, Uncategorized, Urbanisation, Walk21, walkability

Martin_Fisch_Walk

We live in a world that is urbanising at an astonishing rate: 100 years ago only 20% of people lived in a city, by 2010 more than half the worlds population was living in an urban area and by 2050 we expect that figure to rise to 70%.  As these mega-cities become increasingly dense and over-populated, the transport systems that support them are struggling to cope with the sheer numbers of people trying to move around.  Many cities around the world are starting to wake up to the fact that they will have to become walkable and bikeable, just in order to function in the future.

Which types of people choose a walkable lifestyle?

Written by Adam Davies on . Posted in behaviour change, demographics, London, mapping, Physical Activity, policies, TfL, urban walkability, walkability, walking

There’s been plenty of research into how walkable streets and neighbourhoods get more people walking. However what we’re less sure about is: Who are the people that choose to walk more?

In an attempt to answer this question, Transport for London have released new research with some interesting findings.  By combining a large travel survey with Londoners demographic data, the study attempted to identify which types of people walk more as part of their everyday lifestyle.

Rating walkability by combining Open Data and Crowdsourcing

Written by Adam Davies on . Posted in apps, Crowdsourcing, London, mapping, New York, Open Data, streets, urban walkability, walkability, web tools

It’s generally agreed that walkable streets, neighbourhoods and cities are a good thing.  Walkable areas produce a whole range of benefits that include:

  • less obesity and healthier residents;

  • boosting property values and the economy;

  • fewer traffic accidents;

  • reduced CO2 emissions;

  • and maybe even more people walking!

But perhaps a harder question is: How do we know if a street or area is walkable?

Is it just about how many different destinations are within walking distance of any particular spot?  While that’s a really important factor, its obviously not the only one.

blackberry_HelloTurkeyToe

Can’t be bothered to walk? There’s an app for that!

Written by Adam Davies on . Posted in apps, behaviour change, London, Physical Activity, Public Health, rewards, walkability, walking to school, web tools

Walking is the simplest, cheapest and easiest way of getting around. In many big congested cities, its also the quickest way to move. However the simplicity of walking can sometimes make it difficult to ‘sell’ as a concept to government, business and the general public.

You see the problem is, that walking doesn’t really require any extra technology or equipment. ‘But where’s the problem in that?’ I hear you say. For many of us, that’s exactly why we like walking and the idea of walkable cities. However in our gadget-obsessed world, this lack of ‘hardware’ is often a problem. Perhaps the most worrying part of this is that politicians seem to be the most technology-obsessed of everyone, yet they hold most of the funding for walkability.

Shopping feet

How walkable streets boost the economy

Written by Adam Davies on . Posted in Economic impacts, house prices, London, retail, shopping, streets, TfL, urban design, urban walkability, walkability

If you think about your favourite streets, the ones where you like to hang out and meet up with friends: the chances are that these types of street are walkable.  Well it turns out that walkable streets are not only fun and exciting places to be, they are also incredibly profitable.

Research commissioned by the TfL Urban Design team has found that making a street more walkable can add up to £30,000 to the average property price in that street.  In one case study, they found that over £9.5million had been added to local property prices by improving a street with:

  • widened pavements;

  • extra trees;

  • improved lighting;

  • new wayfindings signs.

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Getting our Obes-Cities walking again

Written by Adam Davies on . Posted in behaviour change, Economic impacts, London, New York, Obesity, Physical Activity, Public Health, urban walkability

A healthy city is a walking city. Western cities in Britain and the US are haemorrhaging cash because of a lack of physical activity. Our automated lives have led to an obesity crisis which is costing us billions of pounds a year in health care costs. For instance the estimated cost of physical inactivity and obesity in England is over £10 billion a year (that’s 10% of the entire NHS budget!).

Legible London 2

Legible London is a seriously funky wayfinding system, but does it get more people walking?

Written by Adam Davies on . Posted in behaviour change, Legible London, London, mapping, pedestrians, signage, TfL, urban walkability, wayfinding

If you’ve walked through Covent Garden, Southbank or Oxford Street recently, the chances are you will have stumbled across the funky new Legible London pedestrian signs installed by TfL.  These sleek, stylish ‘monoliths’ have been sprouting up all over the capital during the last year.

Take a tour

Take a tour of a walkable street

Walkable cities?