Equity in microscale urban design and walkability: A photographic survey of six Pittsburgh streetscapes

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This paper explores inequity in neighborhood walkability at the micro-scale level by qualitatively examining six streetscapes in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A photographic survey is used to highlight differences in the quality and design of the built environment among pairs of streetscapes with high or low social vulnerability but approximately equal quantitative Walk Scores®. The survey revealed discernable differences in the quality and maintenance of the built environment among those in more and less disadvantaged neighborhoods. This was true of several characteristics expected to affect walkability, including enclosure, transparency, complexity, and tidiness. Streetscapes in neighborhoods with high social vulnerability exhibited less contiguous street walls, fewer windows and less transparent storefronts, less well maintained infrastructure, fewer street cafés, and overall less complexity than those in neighborhoods with low social vulnerability. Implications for planning and policy are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1233
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 13 2017



  • Environmental justice
  • Equity
  • Social vulnerability
  • Streetscapes
  • Walk score
  • Walkability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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