More dense but less walkable: the impact of macroscale walkability indicators on recent designs of emirati neighborhoods

This research focuses on walkability as a form of generating sustainable and liveable communities, and more specifically, about the role of urban density in achieving walkable and sustainable communities. It can be of interest for practitioners involved in urban design and planning with a focus on improving the mobility and liveability of neighbourhoods and town centres.

Date added 4 October 2021
Last updated 4 October 2021

*This resource is about walkability indicators. It is not specifically about the High Street, but has been included in response to requests for more studies/information about this topic, as well as linking to walkability and accessible priorities for High Street vitality and viability*

Walkability is about a sustainable form of mobility that reduces pollution and improves the physical and mental wellbeing of residents. Furthermore, pedestrian-centred neighbourhoods bring about social capital and social cohesion. This resource explains how walkability is composed of factors at the microscale and macroscale levels. If the microscale level is about the quality of sidewalks, street furniture, etc.; the macroscale is about connectivity, accessibility to everyday institutions, land-use, etc. The research paper explains that factors at the macroscale have been overlooked, and explores the relationship between urban densification and compactness (in contrast to urban sprawl) as a means of achieving more walkable and sustainable neighbourhoods.

This research takes as a case study the Emirati neighbourhoods, as the newer designs have been denser and more compact, if compared to the old ones. This research uses the urban modelling interface (UMI) walkability simulation tool to calculate a walkability score for these new and old designs (UMI Walkscores).

Findings suggest that urban compactness alone does not enhance walkability. It appears that land-use factors of the types, numbers, and the location of amenities, have more influence on walkability. Based on findings, this research concludes with a five-actions plan to improve walkability in neighbourhoods.