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Neighbourhood features contributing to the walkability (pedestrian friendliness) of a neighbourhood are diverse and depend on both its physical and social attributes. Earlier work in the Cleaner, Greener, Leaner (CGL) Study identified differences in opinion between professional stakeholder groups (planners, designers, engineers, public representatives, and public health and advocacy professionals) on what constitutes a walkable environment . This diversity has implications for neighbourhood design and planning policy. The findings of a multi-disciplinary focus group study were used to generate a list of walkability criteria to select areas for a population study. In this study twenty areas were shortlisted and grouped under four categories: high walkable deprived, high walkable not deprived, low walkable deprived and low walkable not deprived. This paper presents the process undertaken to identify the study sites. International walkability research has favoured macro-scale objective geographic information systems (GIS) information to identify study areas . While these macro scale attributes are important for walkability, alone they were considered insufficient for site selection by the CGL team as street characteristics were not considered and the attributes had a bias towards transportation walking. Also, indications from the focus group participants were that walkability is perceptual and therefore some resulting criteria were subjective, for example ‘a pleasant atmosphere contextual to area characteristics’ and therefore difficult to measure objectively. The CGL site selection process presented a number of challenges including limitations with available GIS information, unrepresentative neighbourhood boundaries on GIS datasets, and only one deprived neighbourhood identified as high walkable by the focus group participants. An investigation of the role of high and low walkable environments on resident’s behaviours and health can be used to inform future planning, transport, public health and neighbourhood design policies.
Fitzsimons D'Arcy, L., Leyden, K., Woods, C. (2013). Identifying high and low walkable neighbourhoods using multi-disciplinary walkability criteria. ITRN13Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, 5-6 September.