Active accessibility: A review of operational measures of walking and cycling accessibility

David S. Vale, Miguel Saraiva, Mauro Pereira


Active travel is enthusiastically promoted in the Western world due to its clear and demonstrated individual and collective benefits. While active travel has been shown to be associated with features of the built environment such as density and land-use mix, it is also associated with walking and cycling accessibility—which we designate as active accessibility. However, the measurement of active accessibil- ity is not straightforward and it can represent significantly different features of the built environment. This paper presents an extensive review of published research that measures active accessibility. We classified the literature into four categories based on the methodology used: distance-based, gravity-based or potential, topological or infra- structure-based, and walkability and walk score-type measures. A fifth category was created to classify outliers consisting of distinct methodological approaches or hybrids of the four main categories. We argue that almost all of these methods have conceptual and computational limitations, and that there are inconsistencies in the use of concepts and terms. Furthermore, no sensitivity analysis was carried out on the selected parameters. We conclude by presenting some guidelines that might improve the value and clarity of active accessibility research, theory, and practice.


accessibility, active travel, walking, cycling, non-motorized accessibility, pedestrian accessibility, bicycle accessibility, walkability, bikeability

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