Street Level Urban Design Qualities for Walkability: Combining 2D and 3D GIS Measures

Much of the physical activity and built environment literature has focused on composite walkability indices based on the D variables– design, density, diversity, destination accessibility, and distance to transit. This literature, however, has largely ignored the microscale streetscape features that affect the pedestrian experience. Five street level urban design qualities were recently identified and defined for quantitative measures although these  measures are mostly through subjective field observation. View related features such as long sight line and proportion of sky have not yet been objectively measured due to the limitation of data and method. This study uses both 2D and 3D GIS to objectively measure street level urban design qualities in Buffalo, New York and tests their correlation with observed pedestrian counts and Walk Scores. Our results showed that 3D GIS helped to generate objective measures on view related features. These objective measures can help us better understand the influence of street level urban design features on walkability for designing and planning healthy cities.