Transport planners and engineers are not new to counting pedestrians. But how many of them count the number of pedestrians using a mobility device? This information is very useful in understanding the importance of designing for accessibility. What’s needed is a measuring tool.
A study carried out in New Zealand ran a pilot study for measuring pedestrians using mobility devices. The aim was to develop an appropriate measuring tool and survey template to help with transport planning.
The New Zealand study by Bridget Burdett was carried out in six sites. Twelve categories of aid were included in the count worksheet. Burdett acknowledges that this is not a measurement of disability per se, or an assessment of accessibility for a facility or for transport connections. However it proved to be a reliable tool which can be used more widely.
The interview data were useful in gaining more detail about the complexities of being a pedestrian who uses a mobility device.
The title of the article is, Measuring accessible journeys: A tool to enable participation, and is available from ResearchGate. It has more detail about the methods and applications for the tool in creating accessible journeys.
This study set out to demonstrate the feasibility and usefulness of a series of pedestrian counts, including counting the subset of pedestrians who use visibly identifiable mobility aids. The resulting proportion of mobility aid users can then be used as a proxy measure of relative accessibility for each count site.
The study acknowledges the diversity of disability, and the count is not intended to capture all people who identify as having disability of any kind. It was estimated from Statistics New Zealand data that approximately 3% of New Zealand’s adult population uses a mobility aid for travel at any particular time.
This figure includes those identifying as having permanent disability, as well as an estimate to account for those not included in this figure, namely children, people who do not identify as having a disability but nevertheless use a mobility aid, and those with temporary disability requiring use of a mobility aid.
The study identified opportunities to use the tool to remove gaps in the delivery of accessible transportation, across all parts of its system from policy and planning, through design, construction and monitoring. Its widespread promotion will support more objective measurement of inclusion, to inform best-practice infrastructure investment for all.
Editor’s comment: The number of people using a mobility device relative to the population is not the issue in terms of designing accessible and inclusive places. However, for transport planners the tool brings to the fore the need to be accessible and inclusive.