Accessible transport paves the way for increased social inclusion

Street with footpath in a new developmentSze and Christensen’s study on accessible transportation compares transport access standards in USA, UK, and Hong Kong. According to the authors, minimum requirements are supplemented with criteria for desired requirements in all three access standards. This study provides technical information, dimensions and design improvements as well as discussion and conclusions. One interesting finding is that improved accessibility not only saved travel time, it also encouraged more social activity, particularly in older people. This was the case even where they had significant health issues. Accessibility is also associated with safety and this could have a significant effect on travel behaviour. It would seem that transportation planners should commence their planning with accessibility for people with disability in mind – that way they can be sure the benefits will apply to everyone. The article can be accessed online or by downloading the PDF version. 

Shows the street of a new housing development with driveways for cars but no footpath for peopleEditor’s Note: I recently attended a symposium on healthy built environments and transportation was a major part of the discussion. However, the conversation was largely about encouraging cycling and reducing road use by private vehicles. The focus for public transport was on working age people. Footpaths did not rate a mention until I raised it. I was told that footpaths on both sides of the street were not economically viable and that before laying a footpath a study should be done on how much use it might get. Studies have shown that lack of good and even footpaths are a major reason older people will choose to take the car for all trips. Yet the people with the most time to undertake incidental and social walking are older people as well as non-working parents with prams and people with disability.

From the Abstract:

Safe, efficient and accessible transportation is a key component of community integration. This study attempts to review the current practices and guidelines for accessible design of transportation, both access to and within transport facilities, based on the information from the United States, United Kingdom, and Hong Kong. Besides, the effects of accessible design of transportation on perceived level of service, accessibility, safety and travel behavior would be examined. Therefore, good practices of accessible design that could address the needs for all, especially the elderly and individuals with different types of disability including visual impairment, hearing difficulty and reduced mobility, could be recommended. Hence, quality of life of vulnerable group can be enhanced, and community integration will be achieved in the long run.