Urban planners urged not to ignore city pedestrians

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Posted December 11, 2013
Urban planners urged not to ignore city pedestrians
Professor Paul Hess studies the walkability of neighbourhoods as well as access to public transit and cars. Credit: John Hryniuk
When most people think about urban transportation systems, they focus on infrastructure, including streets, subways and even sidewalks. University of Toronto researcher Paul Hess takes a much broader perspective.

“Transportation touches many issues,” says the geography and planning professor. “It affects our quality of life. It affects energy use and the environment. And it affects social equity – that is, who has access to transportation and who doesn’t?”

To that end, Hess studies how cities are designed and built to accommodate people’s transportation needs. In particular, he is interested in neighbourhoods’ suitability for walking as well as residents’ access to cars and public transit. For instance, in one current project he is studying how immigrants who don’t have driver’s licenses or can’t afford a car get by in the “car-dependent” outer suburbs of Brampton, Mississauga and Markham.

In another initiative, Hess is collaborating with the provincial transportation agency Metrolinx to investigate walkability in areas surrounding transit stations. Specifically, he is looking at whether pedestrians have access to safe, direct routes to public transportation hubs.

Read more at: Phys.org

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