Inclusive pedestrian mobility

Do footpaths have an economic value to the public? Are pedestrians all the same? These questions are worth asking policy makers when it comes to inclusive pedestrian mobility. There is a tendency to treat pedestrians as one group with some exceptions such as outside schools and aged care facilities. This is not helped by various definitions of inclusive mobility in the literature.

An area that is accessible to and usable by everyone can be described as an inclusive pedestrian area. Because pedestrian space does not have a strict status or economic value, and is a place that quickly adapts to different purposes, special attention is needed to preserve pedestrian areas.

Pedestrians are walking towards the camera. They are on a wide walkway. Some people are looking at their phones. They are dressed for warm weather. There are buildings on each side of the walkway. Inclusive pedestrian mobility.

Noa Hamacher’s Masters thesis delves into this topic academically and practically. She looks at human-oriented spaces, pedestrian-friendly areas, and a definition of pedestrian inclusion. The case studies take a national and local context in Norway and The Netherlands.

Given the diversity of pedestrians, designs should consider a wide range of user needs. Fair processes and procedures for decision-making is therefore required.

People are in a park area with a water fountain. A man is holding two sticks and creating a giant soap bubble. A place for pedestrians.

Pedestrian areas are sometimes used for community activities, which are a good thing. However, these activities, such as markets and other events, should take care not to create barriers to accessing this space.

In terms of evaluation, the study found no useful evaluation tools for inclusive pedestrian spaces. This allows the more powerful voices to claim priority. Consequently, involving marginalised groups in decision-making processes is required.

The title of the Masters thesis is, Inclusive mobility in pedestrian areas: Defining and evaluating inclusive pedestrian areas in Oslo, Norway, and Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Photos of case study examples are included in the document.

From the abstract

Walking is the most basic form of mobility. It is used as a mode of transportation in every journey, whether it involves a vehicle or not. Therefore, everyone depends on walking to meet their transportation needs. However, policymakers often assume all pedestrians have a productive age and have the same level of capability.

Additionally, there are a variety of definitions of inclusive mobility found in literature and policy. Because of this, inclusivity of pedestrian areas cannot be standardized. On one hand, mobility policy should consider the various demands of individuals. On the other, there is a desire for a uniform approach in practice.

Finding a balance between these topics is the main goal of this research. This study sought a deeper understanding of the definition of inclusive pedestrian areas and factors that influence the level of inclusivity.

The questions regarding inclusivity; “of what”, “for whom, “by whom and “how much’’ are studied. Two cases are examined namely Oslo, Norway and Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

The results show that an inclusive pedestrian area is defined as an area accessible to and usable by everyone. Further, it is an area that quickly adapts to different purposes in comparison to space for other travel modes. Therefore, pedestrian space often comes under strain.

Participation varies greatly by type of project and evaluation is poor. A strong national goal and a strategy is needed to raise awareness and provide binding rules and funding.

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