The planning and design of the walkable environment is receiving more and more attention for its various benefits related to public health, sustainability, economy, or social life. Therefore, there is a growing need for knowledge about the walkability of the built environment. This presentation will report part of a research project on the relationship between urban form and walking behavior. One important issue dealt in this study is the investigation of the different aspects of walking through partitioning walking activities when studying how they are influenced by the built environment.
Three residential areas from Stockholm, Sweden were selected for the empirical study. An on-site observation study in these selected neighborhoods investigated the walkability of the built environment and the walking behavior of the pedestrians in the areas. Combining both qualitative and quantitative methods, the walking behaviors of the individuals of the areas were documented in detail by observing: the route choices made for the walking trips by tracking pedestrians / the details in the walking behavior during the walking activity tracked / the presence of different types of walking activities taking place in the area / the level of pedestrian density and its patterns. By obtaining hard data on real behaviors of walking in different situations, which includes around 2000 observed walking trips, the field study provides a detailed description of the walking activities and their patterns in the selected neighborhoods. GIS analyses of the condition of the built environment in the study areas were also conducted.
The data from the observation study are analyzed mainly around factors such as land-use diversity, density, and connectivity. The analysis confirms the significance of these factors discussed in improving the walkability of the urban environment. Moreover, an important outcome from this study is that walking activities differ in how they are influenced by various factors of the built environment. Since different kinds of walking activities vary in their goal, effort, frequency, duration, etc., they also vary in how strongly and in what aspect they are influenced by the condition of urban form and also in the qualities the pedestrian searches for and desires from the built environment. For example, the results of the empirical study show how various purposes of walking differently relate to the built environment in their route choice or frequency and how the different conditions of the environment also seem to influence the presence and characters of the different walking activities of their inhabitants.
This study suggests that in order to produce more accurate knowledge about the planning and design of walkable environments for researchers and practitioners in the field of urban planning, design, and architecture, acknowledging the different types of walking activity may be crucial in investigating their relationship to the built environment.
Walk 21, XIV International Conference on Walking and Liveable Communities; Munich, Germany, 11-13 September, 2013