Application of Visual Landscape Assessment in Residential Settings: Understanding the Relationship between Streetscapes and Walking Among Low-Income and Minority Residents


Neighborhood streets can provide accessible opportunities for outdoor walking for people from all age groups and social status. The use of these streets for walking, however, depends on people’s perception of the desirability of the street. This study used a visual landscape assessment (VLA) method to investigate streetscape and design features that were associated to environments’ desirability for walking. Data collection included focus groups, followed by a visual landscape assessment survey. Sixty-nine people from low-income neighborhoods in Denver participated in this study. Data was analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively, using multilevel statistical models.

Results show that more shade and trees, higher levels of maintenance, and the presence of a buffer between the street and sidewalk increase the likelihood of intuitively choosing a street for walking. The availability of natural surveillance, the presence of an open view, and the presence of attractive buildings increase the likelihood of cognitively choosing a street for walking. Streetscape design guidelines can integrate walkability and sun safety considerations through selecting and spacing trees and vegetation that provide a desirable shade. In order to obtain more accurate results, this study should be replicated for larger samples and population subgroups in the future.