If I wanted to do my own walkability survey of my city, what tools could I use? I have map data from OpenStreetMap, but I have to consider that streets have two sides (which aren't always accessible from the other side of the street). I guess I need to make a sidewalk map.

I'd like to use path-finding algorithms against the data to provide walking directions that avoid sections of streets with poor walkability. Some blocks have sidewalks, some don't, and some streets have a sidewalk on one side but are too busy to cross. The directions would cross the highway at places where it's easier--very easy at the crosswalk, hard at several other streets, impossible at a few streets.

I know that weighted path-finding algorithms exist. I'm just wondering how to create this data. I've toyed with taking a map image, putting it in Inkscape, turning on grid lines, and overlaying paths along the sidewalks. With the grid lines, the points of paths connect for path-finding. Path color indicates difficulty of walking. Aside from the path-finding, it'd be a good map to show walkability in town.

Anyone have any ideas?

  • what GIS software are you looking to use?
    – artwork21
    Jul 6 '11 at 1:14
  • I've been working a bit in qgis. I attempted to make the walkability map in Inkscape (just paths, saves in XML). Maybe if I could tell a program: "Take these paths, duplicate them, and move them away from each other."
    – charlesw
    Jul 6 '11 at 1:25
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    It's not as easy as "duplicate and move apart". Imagine what would happen at crossings. Realistically, you'll be fastest digitizing the sidewalks manually and adding all information you have about them at the same time. I'd recommend to do this step in a GIS and not in Inkscape.
    – underdark
    Jul 6 '11 at 8:11
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    Hello, you can to model your "blocks with sidewalks" by buffers? See modeling constraints at How to estimate the average width of a sidewalk? Sep 10 '12 at 14:00
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    Openstreetmap include ( or is able to include) information on sidewalk (as tag of existing way or as separate way) and itinerary calculator are able to use this information. You may find that updating OSM is an easier way to get what you want rather than creating your own sidewalk network from scratch
    – J.R
    Jul 3 at 9:06

If the City has performed a LIDAR scan of the road network to generate a complete map of the sidewalk network, it may be useful to create a "Missing Sidewalk Map". I described how I did that in another answer:

How can I programmatically identify missing sidewalks in OpenStreetMap data?

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