Walkability Data with PPGIS

“Knowledge is power.”

A phrase particularly true in the planning of pedestrian environments. Movement data on active transportation, such walking or cycling, is often difficult to cluster. Its collection is expensive, requires manpower, resources, and new ideas for execution. Nevertheless, the evaluation and improvement of pedestrian environments are familiar terms to many municipal agendas, as well as the aim to increase the pedestrian modal share.

How could data on pedestrian movements be collected in an efficient way, then?

The significant factors in the selection of the walking route are comfort, safety, atmosphere, and accessibility. These factors are all highly subjective. When mapping walkable areas and those harder to access on foot, isn’t it a good idea to ask how the local inhabitants perceive the situation in their neighborhoods?

Let’s take a look at an example!

Kuninkaankolmio is an area at the outskirts of Finland’s capital, Helsinki. The area constitutes of typical peri-urban environments, low-rise residential developments, shopping areas, vast green spaces, and office clusters. Researchers and municipal leaders wanted to know the daily mobility patterns of the inhabitants; where, how and, why do they move?

The chosen method for the data collection was to conduct a PPGIS survey. Respondents were asked to draw on a map of the area where they usually go on foot and tell whether the route feels safe, atmospheric, well-maintained, or the opposite.

The analysis of the data collected tells that inhabitants enjoy going around their neighborhood on foot. Most marked routes were perceived positively and they cover the area at large. Negatively marked routes were clustered close to the train stations, which signals a need for the planners to look carefully at some spots.

Interestingly enough, some routes drawn revealed secrets of the neighborhood. Hidden shortcuts that the planners may not know about, but that are important for the pedestrian mobility of the area. When studying pedestrian movement, the PPGIS method can reveal insight about the mobility possibilities known only to those living in an area.

The picture shows Kuninkaankolmio where the research was conducted. Due to the picture being quite old, the quality is not as good. We apologize for that.

The picture shows Kuninkaankolmio where the research was conducted. Due to the picture being quite old, the quality is not as good. We apologize for that.

My thesis on Kuninkaankolmio can be accessed here. Unfortunately, it’s only available in Finnish at the moment. If you would like to know more, please send me an email at veera@maptionnaire.com

I am happy to discuss about the topic.


Banner picture by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen