This is the final post in a four-part series on Denver’s streetcar legacy and its role in neighborhood walkability. For the introductory post, click here. To get the most out of this post, I recommend taking a look at my app and selecting the Streetcar Neighborhood Walkability section in its sidebar.
Picking up where my last post left off, I wanted to see how the Streetcar Neighborhood Commercial Developments (SNCDs) affected the walkability of Denver’s neighborhoods. There are many ways to measure walkability but given my focus on SNCDs I wanted to focus on proximity to destinations that could conceivably be located in an SNCD. I came up with seven destination categories: retail, grocery stores, restaurants, services, convenience stores, entertainment, and schools/daycares. I used NAICS codes to download their locations from Esri Business Analyst.
So how did I measure proximity to these neighborhood destinations? I used a GIS technique called network analysis to answer the following question: how many destinations are located within a one-half mile sidewalk distance from each parcel in the city? I ran this analysis one destination category at a time and appended the results to each property parcel. Additionally, for each parcel, I added up the number of categories where at least one destination was accessible and called the metric “sum of categories”. All of this data curation and analysis was complex and time consuming, so I limited my area of study to a neighborhood in the northwest part of the city of Denver. I would eventually, however, like to expand it citywide.
The study area is divided into two tracts, a northern one and a southern one. The northern tract is much better provisioned with SNCDs than the one to the south. In its heart, it has an Exceptional Main Street and a Quality Cluster on W. 32nd Avenue and there are also more SNCDs just beyond its boundaries. The southern tract has only a Corner Store, and fewer SNCDs close by. There are also many business nearby both tracts on arterial roads, but neither tract has a major advantage in terms of access to them.
Below are the results. First is a series of maps, showing the number of destinations that each parcel can access. Second is a bar graph showing the average number of destinations accessible per parcel in the northern and southern tracts. It is clear that the parcels in the northern tract benefit from the increased presence of SNCDs. Every category except grocery and schools/daycares are better accessed on foot in the northern tract.