Using best–worst scaling to identify barriers to walkability: a study of Porto Alegre, Brazil

  • Ana Margarita LarranagaEmail author
  • Julián Arellana
  • Luis Ignacio Rizzi
  • Orlando Strambi
  • Helena Beatriz Bettella Cybis


This paper pursues three goals: (1) determining the relative importance of built environment barriers limiting walkability, (2) analyzing the existence of an asymmetry in the way people evaluate positive and negative built environment characteristics, and (3) identifying solutions to tackle the main barriers and quantify their impact in walkability. A best–worst scaling survey was developed to compare the importance of eight different attributes of the built environment regarding walkability. Model results show an asymmetry negative–positive in the judgment and choice of built environment characteristics that promote and impede walkability. The most important barriers, obtained from worst responses, are connectivity, topography, sidewalk surface and absence of policemen. Walkability scores were computed for different neighbourhoods and different policy scenarios were forecasted. Simulation results from the worst responses indicate that improvements in sidewalk quality, along with an increase in the number of police officers, lead to an 85% increase in the walkability score for the lower income neighbourhoods.


Best–worst scaling Discrete choice modelling Walkability Built environment barriers 



The authors thank the CNPQ for the financial support provided from project 407630/2016-3. Luis Rizzi acknowledges financial support from Institute in Complex Engineering Systems (CONICYT: FBO816) and the Centre for Sustainable Urban Development, (CONICYT/FONDAP/15110020). The authors are indebted to the three referees for their comments that improved the substance and readability of the paper.

Authors’ contribution

AML: Literature Search, Experiment Design, Modelling, Policy Simulation, Manuscript Writing; JA: Experiment Design, Modelling, Policy Simulation, Manuscript Writing; LIR: Content planning, Modelling and Manuscript Writing; OS Manuscript Writing, Review and Editing; HC: Experiment Design, Content and data planning, Manuscript Writing and Editing.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Ingeniería Civil y AmbientalUniversidad del NorteBarranquillaColombia
  2. 2.Departamento de Ingeniería de Transporte y LogísticaPontificia Universidad Católica de ChileSantiagoChile
  3. 3.Transportation Engineering DepartmentUniversity of São Paulo-Escola PolitécnicaSão PauloBrazil
  4. 4.Industrial and Transportation Engineering DepartmentFederal University of Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil

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