Measuring accessibility and utilization of public spaces in Famagusta

Nil Pasaogullari & Naciye Doratli

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Pasaogullari, N. & Doratli, N. (1). Measuring accessibility and utilization of public spaces in Famagusta. Cities, 21(3), 225–232.

Accessibility , Cyprus , Public space , Urban development , Utilization

Public spaces have a central role, both physically and functionally, in urban planning and development. Many urban theorists state their significant role as one of the principal components of a healthy urban setting. This is in addition to their functional role, when they increase a sense of community when intensive social interaction takes place in these areas. However, recently, they have started to lose significance, when they are neglected in the urban planning process, or when existing spaces are lost. Additionally, accessibility and utilization of these areas decreases, since public spaces are neglected in urban planning and development processes. In this study, public spaces are assessed in terms of accessibility and utilization, regarding the effects of rapid urban growth on their physical and functional structure. This study first evaluates the significance of public spaces in an urban setting; second, determines the variables effective in terms of their accessibility and utilization; third, assesses the factors affecting the accessibility and utilization of public spaces through a questionnaire survey on the role of public spaces in social interaction, and concludes with an evaluation of the results and suggestions for further research.

Main finding
The authors made several findings some of which will be summarized here. Generally, public spaces in the city were in decline, inaccessible, and underutilized. Poor accessibility was partly due to a lack of sidewalks, spaces inequitably dispersed, and inadequate pedestrian routes. Unfortunately, improved access is contingent on access to a car. Under-utilization stemmed from a lack of safety features (eg. lighting) and unsafe equipment, poor maintenance and uncleanliness, and lack of activities, facilities, and comfort. Personal characteristics had no bearing on responses. The authors suggest a more equitable distribution of quality public spaces reachable with a maximum of ten minutes of travel time.

Description of method used in the article
The authors utilize a theoretical framework regarding factors contributing to access and utilization and employs a questionnaire survey to test hypotheses determining the criteria for assessing access and utilization of public space. Famagusta was chosen as the case site to study the effects of rapid urban physical and functional growth on these public spaces. The theoretical framework for public space access identifies dispersion, proximity, and ways and means of access as the three assessment variables, based on the literature. Each variable is measured by specific methods including: mapping, questionnaires, and spatial observations. Similarly, for utilization, comfort, quality, and aesthetic considerations were identified as assessment variables. A total 116 surveys were given, by random sampling, to users and non-users of the public space and had three sections of questions, totaling 34, to collect data on personal characteristics, accessibility, and utilization, plus any reasons for user dissatisfaction.

Of practical use

Organising categories

Walking or Rolling
Field Observations
Physical types
Geographic locations