1. Create fine-grained pedestrian circulation
Frequent and densely interconnected pedestrian routes are fundamental to walkability, shortening both actual and perceived distances. This can be accomplished by making city blocks smaller or by providing access through blocks via publicly accessible alleys, pathways or paseos (pedestrian boulevards) coupled with frequent crosswalks. A good rule of thumb is that a comfortable walking environment offers a choice of route about once per minute, which is every 200 to 300 feet at a moderate walking pace — typical of a traditional, pre-war city block. This not only allows pedestrians efficient access but also provides visual interest and a sense of progress as new structures and intersections come into view with reasonable frequency.
This kind of “permeability” sometimes meets with resistance from developers and property owners, who may cite security, property rights or site-planning concerns. But street networks are fundamental to walking. Walking five 200-foot blocks through Portland, Oregon, is easy and comfortable. Walking the same thousand feet on a suburban commercial street, past a single distant building and no intersections, is very uncomfortable.
A major statistical analysis found that intersection density and street connectivity are more strongly correlated with walking than even density and mixed land uses. Only proximity to the city center has a stronger effect.