Neighbourhood planning promoting walking

Every journey begins and ends with walking. Walking does not have a cost, is environmentally friendly and is healthy for both the mind and body. Walking helps reduce air pollution, and lessens the wear and tear, and burden on roads.

A key goal to promoting walking and physical activity is to create walkable streets for people of all ages and abilities. If a streetscape meets the needs of people aged four and 80 years, the visually impaired and wheelchair users, then it likely offers a safer and more pleasurable walking experience for all individuals. Key aspects to address in walkability include:

  • Street network
  • Mixed uses and local destinations for people to walk to
  • Densities
  • Open and public space
  • Public transport accessibility
  • Walk and cycle routes
  • Community space
  • Attractive and high quality public realm
  • Connectivity (see Walking and cycling – PedShed analysis in the GIS/Analysis Tools section).

In considering walkability of the neighborhood or local area consider the following points:

  1. Collect and analyse data. Consider statistics on pedestrian safety, demographics (especially age), footpath coverage, land use, traffic volumes and speed. When mapped, these may have a story to tell. Are some populations more likely to be involved in pedestrian accidents? Identifying pedestrian problems and high concentrations of at-risk populations can provide insight into potential priority areas. Examples of other data that could be collected for an area include:
    • Observations on how people use an area, for example is the area used at night? Do people socialise and chat in the area? Are there areas of high usage and gathering points? Are there any conflict points? Is space used in the way it is intended? Do public amenities exist in the area and are they used? Where do people cross the roads? Is there appropriate landscaping in the area? What is the lighting like? Are there routes for pedestrians through off-street car park areas?
    • Conducting pedestrian and vehicle counts
    • Conducting pedestrian interview surveys
  2. Use the expertise and energy of those willing to help. Access to official data or GIS systems is not always needed. A picture of community walkability can be gauged by accessing the knowledge of end-users — the pedestrians themselves. For example, older people and people with disabilities provide the best information about intersections that are difficult to cross and footpaths that are in need of repair. Local government can also access information on insurance claims made against them and complaints recorded in databases. In addition, street or area audits can be undertaken in association with the local community. Potential sources for audit guidelines are provided in the Other sources of information section following
  3. Target strategic locations. Based on data map¬ping and information from residents, it is then possible to target strategic areas for education, health, enforcement and other infrastructure related improvements
  4. Promote the initiative. Let the community know about the improvements in their area. It is a great public relations exercise for council and a good news story for the community. 1

People for places methodology

Gehl Architects have developed a methodology for assessing centres that concentrate on the human dimension and need for a high quality public realm. The methodology identifies that most cities have plenty of information on traffic flows and parking patterns, but very limited data on city quality from a pedestrian point of view. Collection of this data can be a useful tool to develop strategies and provide evidence of the need to implement strategies which target improving the public realm. The following summarises the methodology undertaken by Gehl Architects:

  1. Descriptive analysis of the actual physical conditions for pedestrians, considering the following questions:
    • How are the public spaces composed?
    • How large are the areas available for pedestrian traffic and public life and where are they situated?
    • What are the conditions offered for walking and spending time on the city?  For example, what are the connections like for pedestrians, evaluation of active street frontages
    • What is the traffic situation like? What are the major conflicts with pedestrian movements? For example, evaluation of interruptions to pedestrian flow such as driveways
  2. Comparison of the above with other cities such as Copenhagen and Melbourne
  3. Survey of pedestrian activities to understand how many people walk in the city, where they walk, how many people stay in the city, what they do and what kind of facilities are offered for walking and staying. This involves counting pedestrian traffic (day and night) as well as where stationary activities occur (behavioural mapping). Stationary activities can include looking at goods, speaking to friends, sitting on benches, and sitting in cafes. The aim of these surveys is to gather information on the following:
    • How is the centre used on a typical summer day?
    • How many people are walking in the streets?
    • How many activities are going on? Are there evening activities?
    • How are the streets, squares and parks used?
    • Which population groups use the spaces in the city centre? For example, age and gender
    • Evaluation by time of day. This is important to note if there are any children playing in the city
    • Map outdoor cafes and number of seats, as well as bench seats and their use
  4. People for places methodologyRecommendations and strategies for addressing the problems identified in 1 and 2. Refer to the Case study: Melbourne places for people for the types of recommendations included and the success of this methodology.


Other sources of information

  • Active Living by Design Built Environment and Physical Activity: An Annotated Resource Book: a useful nine page summary of some of the best research and supporting information available (see
  • Adelaide City: Public Spaces and Public Life (Click here for the link)
  • Cairns Regional Council’s Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design General Policy (see
  • Complete Streets: Guidelines for urban street design (based on the standards presented in the IPWEAQ Queensland Streets) IPWEAQ has reviewed and revamped Queensland Streets to give you Complete Streets: Guidelines for urban street design. Complete Streets is a community focussed comprehensive how-to kit for contemporary urban street design that will produce quality streets, urban spaces and neighbourhoods. (See
  • Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) Guidelines for Queensland (see
  • DIY Community Street Audit Pack: a resource from Living Streets, United Kingdom (see
  • Easy Steps — a toolkit for planning, designing and promoting safe walking: a Department of Transport and Main Roads resource package developed to assist local governments in promoting walking. It provides information on how to undertake strategic planning for walking, funding opportunities, urban design, auditing and resources (see
  • Gehl Architects:
    • Melbourne Places for People, Gehl Architects, 1994 and 2004
    • People for Places
    • New City Spaces by Jan Gehl and Lars Gemzøe, 2000
    • Public Spaces – Public Life by Jan Gehl and Lars Gemzøe, 1998
    • New City Life by Jan Gehl, Lars Gemzøe, S. Kirknæs and Britt S. Søndergaard, 2006 (see
  • Healthy Spaces and Places: A national guide to designing places for healthy living: Australian Local Government Association, National Heart Foundation of Australia and Planning Institute of Australia (see
  • Healthy by Design: Heart Foundation Victoria (see
  • Heart Foundation Neighbourhood Walkability Checklist: A national consumer advocacy tool that asks community residents to be the ‘eyes and feet’ of their council to provide feedback on the ‘walkability’ of their local neighbourhoods. The Heart Foundation thinks local residents often know and understand their neighbourhoods as well as anyone else and their feedback can assist planners and other relevant professionals in local government to identify features that either support or discourage residents from walking for transport or recreation. (Click here for the Checklist.)
  • How to Prepare a Pedestrian Access and Mobility Plan: An Easy Three Stage Guide: an informative, step-by-step guide for councils seeking to develop a pedestrian plan. Although it is intended for NSW local councils, much of the content is easily transferable to other states (Click here for the link)
  • International City/County Management Association: a series of reports highlighting strategies for promoting active living and fostering healthy and liveable communities (see
  • Planning Guidelines for Walking and Cycling: Department of Planning guidelines designed to assist local government, community groups and the development sector to better plan for walking and cycling. The guidelines include information, concepts, case studies and illustrations aimed at facilitating the development of pedestrian and bicycle friendly communities (Click here for the link)
  • Queensland Manual of Uniform Traffic Control (MUTCD) Devices, Part 9 Bicycle Facilities and Part 10 Pedestrian Control and Protection: Department of Transport and Main Roads standards for the provision of bicycle and pedestrian facilities (Click here for the link)
  • The Pedestrian and Bicycle Transport Institute of Australasia (PedBikeTrans): worked with students to develop a pedestrian auditing form1 to provide measures used to evaluate the general quality and safety of a pedestrian environment. The audit form is designed to be of value to walking groups, transport professionals and governments. No knowledge of pedestrian planning issues is required to use the form (see
  • Traffic and Road Use Management Manual: Department of Transport and Main Roads, volume 3, specifically:
    • Pedestrian Safety and Accessibility Audit Tools
    • Pedestrian Crossing Facility Guidelines and Prioritisation System User Guide
    • Pedestrian Crossing Prioritisation Workbook (Click here for the link)
  • Walkable America – Walkability Checklist (see
  • Western Australia’s Liveable Neighbourhood Code (see
  • Developer’s Checklist: The Premier’s Council for Active Living in NSW has released a Developer’s Checklist to assist developers who wish to include urban design factors that promote active living. Click here for the resource.
  • Development Applications Resource: The Premier’s Council for Active Living in NSW has prepared a Development and Active Living Resource on urban design factors that will promote active living in your development. Click here for the resource.
  • Why Active Living Statement: NSW has launched a Why Active Living Statement detailing the health, economic, environmental and social benefits of active living. Click here for the Statement.
  • Planning and Design Guidelines: Designing Places for Active Livingcontains design considerations for individual and community health and wellbeing, meeting multiple health, environmental and social objectives. The resource is divided into the following design focus areas:
    • Cities, towns and neighbourhoods
    • Walking and cycling routes
    • Public transport
    • Streets
    • Open Space
    • Retail areas
    • Workplaces

Click here to go to the resource.

  • Healthy Urban Development Checklist: provide  feedback on the broad range of health issues in relation to urban development plans and proposals. Click here for the resource.


Case Studies