Pedestrian Rating System

The UC Berkeley Center for Research Efficient Communities (CREC) has created a Pedestrian Rating System pilot to create a rating of the physical quality of sidewalks for pedestrian activity. The system is intended to inform the planning and design of the pedestrian environment by municipal planners, developers and local and regional transportation agencies by creating a simple common language to describe the quality of each individual block segment within a given area.

Project Overview

The UC-Berkeley pedestrian rating system incorporates the full range of physical street design factors that influence pedestrian behavior in both urban and suburban settings, with an initial emphasis on commercial streets. It is designed for ease of use, and to be applicable both to aerial photographs and to field visits, to enable planners, developers and advocates to assess a large number of streets quickly. The system is based around a checklist of key attributes that contribute to a high-quality pedestrian environment, derived from the urban design literature and from design experience, and preliminarily tested on streets throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition, a series of optional rating factors – generally items that occur infrequently but can strongly affect the quality of a given block segment – are also included to enable raters to modify ratings based on unique local conditions. The final rating for each block segment also reflects the quality of the immediately adjacent block segments and the land use context of the surrounding neighborhood.

The intended potential applications of the rating system include use as:

  • A post-processing adjustment factor in the traditional four-step transportation models that guide MPOs’ capital planning for transportation infrastructure in most of California;
  • A model input in newer economic and activity-based transportation models, such as the Sacramento Area Council of Governments’ “SacSim” model, the new California Statewide Travel Demand and Integrated Interregional Models, and the Production, Exchange, and Consumption Allocation System (PECAS) model;
  • A “gap analysis” tool to identify which pedestrian infrastructure investments in a given region will leverage the greatest reductions in VMT and GHG emissions;
  • A standard in local general plans to require a certain level of pedestrian quality in specific locations within a municipality, such as areas within short distances of transit stops or other popular pedestrian destinations;
  • A substitute for the misleading pedestrian LOS assessments that are often used in project impact assessments under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA); and
  • A standard to be used in negotiations between local municipalities and project developers about investments in the public realm associated with a given project.

Project Intended Audience

Municipal planners, urban designers, developers, transportation planners, pedestrianism advocates.

Key Project Components

A pilot version of the pedestrian rating system, including score sheets for use in the field. A final report on the process by which the rating system was developed.

Fact Sheet

The Pedestrian Rating System is a pilot tool to create a rating of the physical quality of sidewalks for pedestrian activity. The system is intended to inform the planning and design of the pedestrian environment by municipal planners, developers and local and regional transportation agencies by creating a simple common language to describe the quality of each individual block segment within a given area.

The UC Berkeley Center for Research Efficient Communities (CREC) has created a Pedestrian Rating System pilot to create a rating of the physical quality of sidewalks for pedestrian activity. The system is intended to inform the planning and design of the pedestrian environment by municipal planners, developers and local and regional transportation agencies by creating a simple common language to describe the quality of each individual block segment within a given area.

Download the Pedestrian Rating System Fact Sheet to learn more about this project.

This study is conducted at UC Berkeley by Niocla Szibbo, PhD, and William Eisenstein, PhD. To learn more about the California Center for Sustainable Community research partners, please click here.

 

Photo by NACTO, License CC BY-NC 2.0.