WALKABILITY INDEX key performance measure

Walkability is a measure of how friendly an area is to walking; walkability supports community health, safety, livability, and reduced car dependence. The walkability index score is derived from physical characteristics of the urban environment that support walking including residential density, sidewalk presence and completeness, land use mix, retail floor space ratio, and intersection density.

Metro 2040 vision
Metro 2040 encourages the development of complete communities that are walkable and mixed-use with a range of sustainable transportation choices.

The walkability surface is a new performance measure for the region. Updates to the surface will allow for an accessment of whether walkability is improving over time. Generally, the Walkability Index is showing a correlation between higher walkability scores and Metro Vancouver’s Urban Centres and Frequent Transit Network.



​The Walkability Index combines five different indicators that are critical to making a place more walkable and aggregates them to give each parcel a single score. The indicators that contribute to walkability are:

Residential Density is the concentration of dwelling units in an area. The greater the residential density, the more likely residents are to walk.

Intersection Density is the concentration of street intersections within an area. Smaller blocks with more intersections increase the ease of travel to destinations.

Land Use Mix is a measure of the coverage evenness of a series of generalized land uses. Values range from 0 to 1 with higher values indicating greater mix among all the land uses.

Commercial Floor Area Ratio (FAR) is the volume of commercial space in an area. It is calculated by finding the ratio between the total floor area of a building to the land area of the property it is built on. Higher FAR values indicate greater intensity of development on a property and a greater number of destinations to walk to.

Sidewalk Completeness is the measure of the continuity of the sidewalk network or the total length of sidewalks over the length of the roads. The more sidewalks, the more likely people are to walk.

The 2011 and 2016 walkability surfaces cover most of the Metro Vancouver region. These surfaces were clipped to the current extent of the Urban Containment Boundary (UCB) for the purposes of evaluating the performance of Metro 2040.

Walkability as a Performance Measure

The Walkability Index combines five different component indicators into an index score. This requires a standardization process which means that the Walkability Index map cannot be compared year over year as a performance measure (because every postal area is relative to every other postal area). However, the component indicators are shown here as absolute measures which means that they can be compared year over year, making the component indicators appropriate performance measures for progress towards Metro 2040 Goal 4.


The Walkability Index was developed by UBC's Health and Community Design Lab under the direction of lead developed Dr. Lawrence Frank with financial support from TransLink and Metro Vancouver. The University of British Columbia owns all right, title, and interest in the Walkability Index. Questions about the Walkability Index data may be directed to the UBC Health and Community Design Lab.

Other resources

Neighbourhood Design, Travel, and Health in Metro Vancouver: Using a Walkability Index, 2010