Gendered walkability: Building a daytime walkability index for women
AbstractUrban walkability is influenced both by built environment features and by pedestrian demographics. Research has shown that factors influencing women’s walking differ from those affecting men’s. Using a mixed-method approach, this study creates a new women-specific, GIS-based walkability index using San Francisco as a case study, and answers two questions: Which variables most influence women’s propensity to walk? And Does the leading walkability index, Walk Score, reflect women’s walkability? Focus group participants (n=17) ranked crime, homelessness and street/sidewalk cleanliness as the three most influencing factors on women’s walkability, accounting for 58% to 67% of the Women’s Walkability Index’s total score. The least walkable areas in San Francisco, according to this index, are rated as some of the most walkable neighborhoods in the city by Walk Score, despite high crime and homelessness density. Walk Score is negatively correlated with the new Women’s Walkability Index (Spearman’s rho = -0.585) and inaccurately represents women’s walkability. If the new index accurately captures the reality of women’s walking, then some of the most widely accepted conventions about what kind of areas promote walking could be inaccurate when it comes to women.
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