A walkability audit tool adapted to the specific population of older pedestrians in urban areas

By Florence Huguenin-Richard, Marie-Soleil Cloutier

Walking is distinctive to other modes of mobility because it involves a complete immersion of individuals in the environment. It is now highly valued in France, and more generally in Europe and North America, as a “soft” and non-polluting mode of mobility, but also as an “active” and healthy one. However, the specific needs of pedestrians for security and comfort must be better considered in order to promote walking as a real alternative to other forms of urban transport, irrespective of pedestrians’ age. Moreover, the needs of older pedestrians are not yet sufficiently recognized by public authorities, partly because urban environments remain the place of active young people or, in short, of the most efficient users. Indeed, older pedestrians, with their inherent slowness and fragility, are not necessarily seen as legitimate and, in a sense, lose their right to the city in a context given over to automotive flow and speed. Given that walking has become a marker of the quality of urban life or urbanity, the challenge to make cities of tomorrow more accessible, more pleasant to live in, and more universal and welcoming, remains on the agenda. This paper presents a walkability audit tool adapted to older pedestrians. Detailed mapping based on field survey indicators makes it possible to pinpoint problems, and to identify interventions needed to ensure a good level of accessibility. In summary, the lack of continuity between paths emerges as one of the most disruptive and hazardous element for elderly pedestrians.

  • accessibility
  • older pedestrians
  • safety
  • urban area
  • urban design
  • walkability
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