Accessibility, urban design and the whole journey environment

Evans, G.

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Evans, G. (2009). Accessibility, urban design and the whole journey environment. Built Environment, 35(3), 366–385.

Accessibility and mobility within the urban environment has been dictated by the design and layout of buildings and road infrastructure. Both, in their separate ways, have created problems of safety and crime which have conspired to limit pedestrian confidence and therefore movement and travel choice amongst particular groups. Benchmarking of accessibility does not tend to reflect everyday journeys and trips taken or desired, and the perceptual barriers felt by many people. This article reports on a five year research study into accessibility, urban design and social inclusion (AUNT-SUE), funded under the EPSRC's Sustainable Urban Environment programme. The development and validation of a street design index and evaluation of routes is presented through a test bed case study based on user consultation with groups experiencing barriers to pedestrian access, 'fear of crime' and therefore to engagement with the transport system and wider social inclusion. This involves the use of GIS-participation techniques and map walks with residents, integrated with digital data analysis and visualization of the whole journey environment. Particular attention is paid to the mobility and journey needs of users, as well as perceptual and safety issues, since these present some of the major barriers to transport access for vulnerable groups.

Main finding
A comprehensive effort to understand transportation journeys revealed both convergence and divergence between qualitative and quantitative analysis. Issues identified by participants overlapped but also diverged from negative features mapped using the Street Design Index. Participants rated fear of crime as the most significant barrier to travel, followed by road safety, road quality, and distance.

Description of method used in the article
The author first conducted focus groups in northern and southern England with groups with mobility needs, such as parents, elders, youth, minorities, and disabled people in order to better understand accessibility issues. They then piloted a Street Design Index to measure and map accessibility. Following street audits, they conducted focus groups with GIS participation, questionnaire surveys, and interactive walking exercises.

Of practical use

Organising categories