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Accessibility, Urban Design and the

Whole Journey Environment

Accessibility and mobility within the urban environment has been dictated by the
design and layout of buildings and road infrastructure. Both, in their separate
ways, have created problems of safety and crime which have conspired to limit
pedestrian confidence and therefore movement and travel choice amongst particular
groups. Benchmarking of accessibility does not tend to reflect everyday journeys
and trips taken or desired, and the perceptual barriers felt by many people. This
article reports on a five year research study into accessibility, urban design and
social inclusion (AUNT-SUE), funded under the EPSRC’s Sustainable Urban
Environment programme. The development and validation of a street design
index and evaluation of routes is presented through a test bed case study based
on user consultation with groups experiencing barriers to pedestrian access, ‘fear
of crime’ and therefore to engagement with the transport system and wider social
inclusion. This involves the use of GIS-participation techniques and map walks
with residents, integrated with digital data analysis and visualization of the whole
journey environment. Particular attention is paid to the mobility and journey
needs of users, as well as perceptual and safety issues, since these present some of
the major barriers to transport access for vulnerable groups.

Every time you walk to the shops or try to cross range of social, leisure and employment
the road you are encountering a classic example destinations from home and therefore access
of bad design. This design failure is the result
to pedestrian and transport systems. While
of an ideology of traffic engineering that put
cars first and dictated that different modes of assistive technology research has focused
transport must be set apart. (Desyllas, 2006, p. 33) on improvements in product design for
individual and home-based application,
Modernization, of which road building accessibility has been limited to removing
was key aspect from the 1950s, has fuelled particular barriers such as to wheelchair
– literally – the motor car, which today has access (although less than 5 per cent of
encroached into every corner of our urban the registered disabled are wheelchair
environment. The chances of a 10–14 year reliant), e.g. step free stations, low floor
old child dying in a road accident doubled buses, dropped kerbs, and ambient factors
between 1955 and 1990. Community safety, such as lighting, auditory and visual
accessibility and social inclusion have information and way-finding. This is due
emerged as particular challenges to the de- in part to the imperatives that drive such
sign of the urban environment, raising a product development with a clear target
wide range of issues affecting mobility and and user group and measurable benefits
participation in everyday life. Accessibility arising, including commercial application.
here relates to the ability to reach a Accessibility design, on the other hand, is



more of a process, with a multiplicity of Concern, 1999, p. 22). In practice, standards

stakeholders in the public realm and one in accessible design tend to isolate particular
that should include: ‘all people regardless of elements such as the design of building
age, gender, race or disability, encompassing features and their approaches (Disability
management, operation and information and Discrimination Act – DDA, 1995) not if and
relating to all areas – the built environment, how the user actually reached the destination
transport, graphics, telecoms and products. itself, or whether transport is integrated with
This is quite different from some iconic service delivery, e.g. opening times. Official
perfect and immutable product or design’ benchmarks classify a service or activity as
(Walker, 2005, p. 103). ‘accessible’ if it can be reached at reasonable
The urban environment and transport cost, in reasonable time, and with reasonable
system is, however, fragmented in both ease. ‘Reasonable’ in this context is not
policy, operational – ownership, statutory however defined (this same term is also
responsibilities – as well as design spheres. used in DDA legislation) with this value
Or more accurately, transport policy and judgement decided by the provider (e.g.
planning have been isolated from urban facility or transport operator) not the user,
policy and planning. This fragmentation is let alone those most excluded from travel
multiplied further in terms of spatial scale and transport. Access guidance arising from
and public and private interests. Design- the DDA legislation gives transport limited
related disciplines with an interest in the coverage – less than one and half pages out
urban environment and transport system of over 100 (Ratcliff, 2007), with a focus on
include: architects, urban designers, street, building, workplace and vehicular access.
traffic, highways and civil engineers, as
well as product, communications and in-
Community Safety and Barriers to Walking
dustrial designers, and professionals with a
responsibility for land-use, housing provision, Particular attention has been paid in our
transport and safety – notably town and research to perceptual and safety issues,
transport planners, street care teams, the since these present one of the major barriers
police – crime prevention/architectural to access for excluded groups – with over
liaison officers, safer neighbourhoods teams 11 per cent of the general public saying that
– and specialist advisers such as access and they would travel more if they felt safer on
disability auditors. Defining the field and the transport system (Crime Concern, 2002).
the scope of accessible transport from an While crime and safety within the transport
inclusive design perspective is therefore best system (on board, at stations and bus stops)
conceived in terms of the ‘whole journey has received attention from police and
environment’, since as Coleman (2003, p. transport operators (e.g. CCTV, security),
132) notes: ‘A journey can be seen as a chain safety is of more concern and crime a greater
of individual products and services whose barrier to access in the journey to and from
accessibility is only as strong as its weakest transport by all people, but particularly
link’. In making our travel decisions, we women (Crime Concern, 1997). CCTV has
do not differentiate between the elements also been found to be less effective in actual
of the journey but on their perception of crime prevention and victim protection,
the whole journey: ‘a broken paving stone than in reporting and detection – and only
under a failed street lamp is a deterrent to significant in crime reduction in car parks
walking – it is of no use to say “as much as” with improved lighting and security guards
or “more than” or “less than” fear of attack; (Welsh and Farrington, 2008). CCTV does,
if the environment stops someone from however, account for over 75 per cent of
walking, it is not a matter of degree (Crime all spending on crime prevention in the



UK, whereas investment in improved en- and healthy living campaigns, has also seen
vironmental design and community safety an increase in fatalities and serious injuries
would more directly address fear of crime (11 per cent up between 2004 and 2007),
and situational crime prevention. More vul- despite no significant increase in cycling
nerable groups and those who rely more over this period (NAO, 2009). London,
on walking (i.e. older and younger people) where, post-congestion charging, cycling has
frequently cite the safety factor, including fear increased, also has the highest rate of cyclist
of crime, as the highest in determining their and pedestrian deaths (17 per 100,000 against
travel behaviour. Indeed from our user group an average of 11).
surveys, the first barrier to travelling at all, Only recently has the street (as opposed
let alone more frequently, starts at the front to the road) as a pedestrian environment
door, then in the immediate neighbourhood. attracted transport, design and safety atten-
This includes physical barriers to particular tion, as a stimulus to increased walking and
mobility impaired groups, but a range of pedestrian activity. This has been driven
perceptual and environmental constraints by the twin goals of sustainability through
are felt by a much wider population who are more compact, walkable cities (Cooper et
effectively excluded from travel, including a al., 2009; Jencks, 1999) resulting in reduced
high proportion of older people and others car use, crime and pollution, and the health
suffering social exclusion, including women, benefits from increased physical activity
women with young children and ethnic countering ‘obesogenic environments’ (Heath,
minorities. From our surveys with older et al., 2006; Handy et al., 2002; Lake and
people, for example, ease of leaving the Townsend, 2006). Recent efforts to fill this
house and of simply ‘getting around’ was the knowledge gap include design guidance and
most important consideration, with regular toolkits to measure accessibility at the street
mobility their prime need (below). level (table 1), and guides to facility design,
At the micro-scale, responsibility rests particularly to meet disability access and
primarily with the street or traffic engineer related building and planning regulations.
with the emphasis (or priority) given to The recent Transport Ministry’s Manual for
vehicular road access and movement, and Streets (DfT, 2007) signalled government’s
safety in terms of pedestrian-road/vehicle acknowledgement that the pedestrian needed
inter-action, i.e. accident prevention. to be at the top of the ‘hierarchy of need’ in
Crossings and car speed are key limitations the public realm, drawing on growing good
to pedestrian access: ‘roads are perceived practice in street design and layout schemes.
as barriers to the day-to-day movements Design guidance referenced in this manual
of older people who are often delayed as is also generally predicated on new-build
traffic volumes rise. Road traffic can lead to or major works, however the vast majority
a perceived danger of travel, which causes of development is incremental, retro-fitting
feelings of insecurity, anxiety and stress’ and infill of existing built environments.
(WHO, 2002, p. 12). Communities living in Design guidance generally, including crime
more disadvantaged areas are one and a half prevention and safety, has tended to focus
times more likely to be killed or injured on on access and layout of buildings, notably
the roads than those living in better off areas, Secured by Design (ACPO), Buildings for Life
children under 16 over four times (DfT, 2007), (CABE), Design Quality Indicator (CABE/CIC),
a shocking ratio. These communities are less Active Design (Sport England), and also open
likely to have access to a car and therefore the space (CABE Space). However, the more
pedestrian and public transport system is of complex pedestrian journey and transport
greater importance, as is community safety. access has not undergone the same level of
Cycling, the subject of sustainable transport inclusive design analysis. Wider community



Table 1. Selected toolkits for street design and accessibility.

Toolkit Aim End-user Method Input
Source involvement

Link and Place Planning and Design of Stakeholders are involved Step 1 matrix assigns up Labour intensive – a
urban street as a Link – a (‘key’), which takes into to 5 categories to Link matrix must be drawn
Jones et al. place that users should account priorities such as and 5 for Place for each up to include each street
(2007) pass through as quickly bus routes and may also street/segment. Step 2 and sub-segment. Then
and conveniently as vary by time of day or develops a Street Plan, a street plans, giving the
possible; and Place – as day of week. The guide design brief for the area, ideal design, followed
a destination in its own offers practical tools and setting out priorities. by an evaluation of
right – equally important. approach to this. Step 3 involves a review critical streets to see how
Aims to meet varying of key streets in the area well they fit this design.
needs of street users against the ideal set out Multiple iterations may
and encourage active by the design process, be required.
stakeholder engagement. and identification of areas
for change.
Spaceshaper Toolkit for public User group (self selected, Questionnaire plus Relatively little effort
engagement, for use by e.g. friends group) led workshop to obtain beyond the time
CABE anyone – whether a local by a trained facilitator. information on the taken to fill in the community group or a Data analysis relies on quality of a public space. questionnaire and
professional - to measure algorithm/model. This assesses 8 aspects: conduct the workshop
the quality of a public access; use; other people and site visit. Further
space before investing (how it caters for different effort required to collate
time and money in needs); maintenance; the results obtained.
improving it. environment; design and Further iterations can be
appearance, community undertaken with the same
(its importance to local or different groups.
people); how the space
makes you feel. Uses
spider diagrams to collate
the results from the
Pedestrian Evaluation A systematic process to Transport agencies Audit framework All routes of interest need
Review System (PERS) assess the pedestrian and local transport to assess the links, to be audited. Expert
environment. Establishes authorities involved with crossings, routes, public judgement based.
TRL the relative quality of the development and transport waiting areas,
(2007) different pedestrian validation. inter- change spaces and
routes and provides an public spaces used by
opportunity to review Not end-user based. pedestrians. Relies on the
at a detailed level collation of comments
the opportunities for and scores on a range of
improving individual parameters to assess the
links and crossings. pedestrian environment.
Community Street Audit Evaluates the quality Local participants guided Facilitator takes people Organizing walk, prepare
(Street and Social Space of public space and by facilitator. Feedback out to look at how mapping and recording
Audit) identifies issues of the provided to participants. places work on foot. material (also cameras).
people who use the No questionnaires, Providing feedback to
Living Streets streets and determine but observation and participants.
(2002) what needs to be done to conversation encourages
improve areas and routes. a fluid, natural response
to the street environment.
Can be carried out by
members of the public,
local stakeholders or by
consultants who wish
to assess the existing
walking conditions of the
local street environment.
Within reach Accession Wide reaching accessibility Accession is designed so Mapping of population, Data on population
Modelling GIS based software tool. that data can be shared transport and local characteristics to identify
Used to map current within partnerships and services and models areas where people with
Department for accessibility levels and users, but data is not access and catchments. specific needs are located,
Transport to consider the effect of end-user or consultation Suggests most data can and on the location and options for improvements. based. be collected from national availability of services,
Criteria can be added: sets but local knowledge e.g. doctors, dentists,
frequency; road speed; is beneficial. Requires schools etc and local
delay for wheelchair start/ effort to learn how to use public transport.
end times. program.



and user involvement in these professional result in the withdrawal of people into the
guidelines and toolkits is also weak, with an home’. What emerges is that the interaction
overemphasis on physical environmental and between local residents, other users (workers,
street features leading to prescriptive design visitors) and the local environment requires
standards, but less consideration of safety a fine grain level of analysis which might
and other perceptual barriers or the needs of also inform higher scale urban design and
particular excluded groups (including hard to planning of the street and transport system.
reach, non and infrequent users), as opposed
to special interest groups. Comprehensive
User Perspectives
community profiling and mapping is not
a feature of these approaches, with the In transport accessibility measurement, public
exception of the Accession model promoted transport standards (PTALs) (TfL, 2003)
by the Transport Ministry that relies on use average travel journey times/distances
limited national Census and other official between two points, i.e. from point of interest
(e.g. deprivation) data, but which again does (POI), origin or destination, to service access
not target perceptual fear of crime and local point (SAP), i.e. a bus stop. These are then
knowledge factors that, as we have found, combined with the frequency of service or
determines accessibility within the urban waiting time to make up the average ‘access
environment, and to transport. Pedestrian time’. In London, for instance, an acceptable
evaluation systems have also been found POI to SAP is estimated at a maximum of 8
to be inadequate in assessing design against minutes (or 640 metres) to a bus top and 12
crime within the transport system (TfL, minutes (960 metres) to a rail (including light
2008). rail, underground) station. This is based on
Accessibility as a feature of sustainable a walking speed of 4.8 km per hour (or 80
development and ‘Sustainable Communities’ metres a minute). Such standards take no
(ODPM, 2003) is also expressed in terms of account of walking abilities, environmental
quality of life (QoL) measured through a ‘street’ factors, or a priori perceptual and
basket of over thirty QoL indicators applied personal barriers to travel. Nor whether the
at a local level (DETR, 1998). These include local public transport actually serves the
access to services indicators represented by journey need (i.e. route/destination). From
journey (walking) times to a predetermined our user surveys, for example, trips that
destination such as local GP or park, but involve multi-mode and interchange usage
from our user consultations these do not (e.g. two or more buses) present particular
reconcile with the everyday destinations difficulties for older people and others with
undertaken or most desired (table 2). What is multiple mobility issues, notably pushchair
also common between these physical design and wheelchair users.
audit and planning standards is the absence As the first step in specifying accessible
of user involvement in their specification, design from a user perspective, several focus
or the recognition that travel and mobility group sessions were held with groups with
needs and behaviour varies according to specific mobility needs and those experienc-
demographic make-up, at different times, and ing potential transport exclusion, e.g. young
for different environments. As Ekblom (2006, people, mothers with toddlers/single parents,
p.3)observes in the case of Crime Prevention registered disabled, ethnic minorities –
Through Environmental Design (CPTED): including elders and youth (SEU, 2003). These
‘the efficacy of CPTED can be reduced by sought to evaluate the travel activity, aspira-
demographic factors and socio-economic tions and barriers to access, which could
factors. Social conditions may nurture fear, then be compared with transport planning
reduce the inclination to intervene and standards and quality of life indicators. Focus



groups were held in contrasting locations aesthetics and the design and layout of the
and communities in northern and southern environment and routes, and how they are
England, including Rotherham, Liverpool, perceived and used. The recommended
Camden (north London) and Hertfordshire. A approach from this review is the use of
key finding from the older groups consulted objective measures in combination with user
was an assessment of their regular travel evidence to ‘provide a richer more accurate
needs, and these were consistent across the picture of environmental influences on
locations and groups involved (see table 2). physical activity’ (Ibid., p. 442), and one that
While national benchmarks focus on GP/ that therefore should involve the community
hospital and town centre access, as well as in order to ensure that their perspectives are
sports facilities, the most frequent trips by considered.
older people were to local amenities such It is increasingly accepted that: ‘matters
as post office and green grocer. This is such as community safety, accessibility, sus-
confirmed in studies of older people (King tainability, quality of life are key concerns
et al., 2003), where park, restaurant and within the public realm and are significant
church also ranked as frequent destinations. elements within the urban design agenda’
However, government accessibility indicators (City of Edinburgh Council, 2003, p.7).
do not include food shopping. Busy (traffic, However, while the availability of acces-
pedestrians, shops, signage etc) centres may sible transport/public facilities and local job
also be a turn-off to some older people (and opportunities forms the backbone of acces-
adults with young children), particularly the sibility planning and sustainable communities
frail, dementia sufferers and those lacking strategies (ODPM, 2003), without a well-
confidence and mobility. Cunningham and designed public realm that supports origin
Michael’s (2004) review of studies in this to destination journeys, such strategies are
field also found that the most consistently likely to fail to deliver long-term accessibility
significant factors were safety and aesthetics, and social inclusion goals (Lucas, 2004).
and to a lesser extent, micro-scale urban Extensive research evidence (Azmin-Fouladi,
design (e.g. pavements, lighting). There is, 2005) now suggests that good urban design
however, a relationship between safety, can contribute to an inclusive journey

Table 2. Benchmarking of older people’s (minimum) travel needs.

Activity Frequency No. of National accessibility indicator
Food shopping Weekly 2 Percentage of households and households without
access to a car within 15 and 30 minutes of a major
centre by public transport.
Comparison shopping Monthly 2
Social or recreational Weekly 2 Percentage of the population within 20 minutes
activity travel time (walking) of different sports facility
Structured day time Weekly 2–10 –
activity appropriate to
Post Office Weekly 2 –
Medical trip or visit Monthly 2 Percentage of households and households without
access to a car within 15 and 30 minutes of a GP by
public transport (30 & 60 minutes of a hospital).
Source: Solomon and Titheridge, 2006.



environment in three key aspects by helping the features and attributes that have been
to: selected. The data collection method within
a test bed area is then described with data
1. Enhance the quality of the public realm analysis and design improvements arising.
– including transport interchanges and the
pedestrian environment – creating a sense of
Design Index for the Inclusive Journey
identity/community by animating the edges
of the routes and creating vibrant public
spaces. The aim has been to develop a transferable
index for accessibility (Azmin-Fouladi, 2007a,
2. Minimize the psychological barriers to b). In creating the SDI, drawing on rele-
accessibility, e.g. fear of crime, by reducing vant literature and guidance (CABE, 2000,
opportunities for physical and social 2001; Living Streets, 2002; Essex CC, 2006;
incivilities and risk. Colqohoun, 2004; ODPM, 2004), criteria
were selected that can be measured and also
3. Reduce physical barriers to accessibility to provide a set of defining attributes, rather
by providing permeable public spaces, than generalized descriptions which are
pedestrian friendly landscaping and useful, not helpful in detailed design specification.
well-designed street furniture and amenities, Where such definitions as in the case of
e.g. seating, lighting, public toilets, cycle intangible factors were absent, based on
parking/routes. observations and in consultation with other
researchers, they were defined more con-
In order to identify design-related barriers, cretely. The auditing itself was conducted
the quality of the physical environment in two stages. Firstly the macro-elements, as
must therefore be thoroughly analysed. An outlined in table 3.
urban design street audit or index (Street Secondly, detailed categories are considered
Design Index – SDI) has therefore been and conceptualized (see table 4). As is
piloted to include aspects that contribute emphasized in Better Places to Live (CABE,
to accessibility, and which could then be 2001), the individual elements of buildings,
used for modelling and developing a GIS- landscapes and their interface, have a key
based tool for urban design and accessibility role in determining the overall quality of an
analysis. This is outlined here in terms of area. However, auditing all these elements
the research methodology, reconciling the for a wide area is time consuming and
difficulties in street auditing for urban design impractical. Thus after identifying sections
and accessibility interaction, and illustrating of public spaces and routes within our test

Table 3. Macro elements of urban design audit.

Land-use: office, residential, commercial,
occupation/usage, temporal, mixed-use
Windows Reflecting natural surveillance and animation
Active frontage
Walls/boundaries Reflecting territoriality/sense of ownership/access,
Set-backs control
Public space: graffiti, vandalism, fly-tipping, litter Sense of ownership, community cohesion,
and other problems urban/ street management
Street furniture: seats, bins, bollards, tree grilles, Amenities, variety, streetscape, barriers and
railings, signposts obstacles



Table 4. Categorization of urban design elements for street auditing.

Concepts/aspects Elements/Variables/Cases/Values Attributes
Windows Both sides (Numbers) Lots of windows, some
(eye on the street) One side (numbers) windows, no windows, no
Natural surveillance

No windows/blank walls/bushes and green ground floor windows

Activities on Shops, places of business (frontage) Curtilage: Narrow <1.5 m,
the footway absolute 1.5 m, accepted
1.8 m, desired 2 m
Gathering places (Benches /children’s play Public park, as part of
area) walking environment;
communal, front garden
Street market (occasional activities)
Broken windows Graffiti /vandalism
Borded-up buildings/broken windows
Rubbish/general cleanliness
Territoriality Setbacks Front garden, parking
cartilage, access to lower
General image

ground, planter >10 m wide

Demarcation of public/semi-public/ private <1.5 m, >1.5 m
Enclosure/continuous building frontage, <1.5 m, >1.5 m height
proper height-width ratio
Fear-based route Entrapment (width of the footway)
configuration Blocked prospect /open sightline
Bushes and grown up plantations <1.5 m, >1.5 m ( bushy), planter
Special features Local characteristics/identity
Landmarks and historical buildings/ features Listed building,
Conservation Area
Accessibility to Level entry Level entry, ramp, step,

buildings Ramp steps

Step(s) Change of surface, change
of level

bed area which exhibit negative qualities, Š public art and features (permanent &
micro-elements such as design of railings, temporary works, fountains and graphics);
treatment of boundaries and appearance of
shop fronts were examined thoroughly. Some Š shop fronts (thresholds, glazing, stall
of the features considered to be most influ- risers, signs, banners and shutters);
ential include: Š advertisements (hoardings, kiosks and
banners, signage);
Š design and arrangement of boundary
walls/railings/plantings; Š safety and security (emergency equip-
ment, CCTV, gates and grilles);
Š planting (trees, planters, grassed areas,
flowers and borders); Š elements that signify identity and
character (cultural, vernacular, community
Š banners and signs (interpretative, instruct-
ive, informative and directional);
Š lighting (pavement, pedestrian, highway, Over twenty indicators representing the
security, building and feature); prime macro-elements were identified and



Table 5. Elements and attributes for street design audit.

Elements Attributes
Access to building Level entry, ramp, step, steps, Entry phone
Footway width Narrow <1.5 m, absolute 1.5 m, accepted 1.8 m, desired 2 m (Essex CC, 2006)
Windows Lots of windows, some windows, no windows, no ground floor windows
Setbacks Front garden, parking cartilage, access to lower ground, planter>10 m wide
Railing, Fence <1.5 m, >1.5 m height
Boundary plantation <1.5 m, >1.5 m ( bushy), planter
Boundary wall <1.5 m, >1.5 m
Alleyways Length, width, lighting, closed, permeable (back gates)
Land use National Land Use Database (NLUD) land use classification, OS POI
Open space Playground, sports pitch/court
Building storeys Numbers
Shop curtilige Ground floor/street level
Blank wall Length, height, graffiti, overlooked
Greenery Park, Public as part of walking environment, communal, front garden
Soft boundaries Change of surface, change of level
Hard boundaries Barbed/razor wire, wire-mesh
Street Furniture Seating, gate, bollards
Parking Off-street, on-street/bays, meter/CPZoned
Graffiti, Vandalism Visible, dereliction (e.g. broken window, fly tipping)
Void/vacancies Boarded-up buildings, empty shops, unused private land
Cycle lane On-street, pedestrian lane
Width of the street Pavement to pavement, pavement to island, zebra/controlled crossing

assessed (see table 5). These elements were of Multiple Deprivation (IMDs) and Experian
captured in an observational audit and map- demographic, lifestyle data – see examples
ping of test bed sites – the Somerstown and in figures 2 to 4. By using a wide range of
Elm Village neighbourhoods in the London available data, this baseline mapping can
Borough of Camden (St Pancras Ward) – be undertaken for other areas at various
which had been the subject of traffic calming scales of geography, and in a comparative
(similar to Home Zone pilots, Biddulph, framework. These spatial data have also
2008) and crime (burglary) prevention provided the baseline for street audit and
interventions, see below. resident surveys and a reference for the
The above elements were recorded onto a findings arising from user surveys, where
hard copy ordnance survey (OS) map (1:500 variations between primary and secondary
scale), and subsequently transferred into GIS data often arise around local perceptions
digital map format, creating a rich database and experience regarding safety, social and
resource for spatial analysis and visualization, amenity factors (below).
and subsequent consultation (figure 1). This community mapping revealed low
Contextual data were also collected for the car ownership and pockets of poverty sur-
area, and visualized in 2D and 3D formats, rounded by better-off neighbourhoods, a
including land use, building heights, recorded mixed morphology of housing/building types,
crime (property, street/vehicle crime), Ord- a high proportion of children and young
nance Survey’s ‘Points of Interest’ (POI), e.g. people (and primary and secondary schools,
amenities, retail, transport), as well as socio- churches), as well as older/retired people,
economic and demographic profiles drawn and from census analysis, high economic
from the 2001 Census, 2004 and 2007 Indices inactivity and poor health, and a multi-



Figure 1. Urban
design factors.

cultural community including long estab- drug dealing, prostitution) and environ-
lished and more recent migrants (e.g. Irish, mental problems (litter, parking, street urina-
Bangladeshi and Somali). The travel horizons tion), and transferred these to adjoining
of unemployed residents who were seeking
work were very parochial, limited to the im-
mediate neighbourhood and adjoining locali-
ties. Transport provision (bus, tube, rail) is,
however, in close proximity (if not accessi-
ble to many residents), but located outside
of the area itself. While schools and some
community facilities exist within the neigh-
bourhood, most food and other shopping
(e.g. supermarkets) and activities were also
located outside of the area (figure 2).
Street crime (robbery and snatch theft)
and road safety also worsened at the edge
of the area (figure 3), which served as the
main pedestrian access to bus and other
transport. Recorded street crime peaked at
rush hour times (not at night), highlighting
the disadvantage of residential areas close to
major transport and commuter flows.
This has been exacerbated by construction
and heightened security in and around
station areas – due to anti-terrorism measures,
new station and adjoining developments,
closure/ removal of litter bins, public toilets
and seating – which together have effective-ly
displaced crime and anti-social activity (e.g. Figure 2. Retail and food amenities (POI, OS).



Figure 3. Street and vehicle crime density.

neighbourhoods. This creates for some older area were geo-coded into a GIS database and
and vulnerable groups (e.g. ethnic minorities) mapped. In order to analyse the quality of
an enclave or ‘ghetto’ effect, limiting travel the public realm for the inclusive journey
outside of the residential neighbourhood. environment, attributes of each elements were
Vehicle theft and damage and bicycle theft ranked with negative and positive values
were concentrated within the residential (table 5 above). For example, areas/routes
area itself, but again on the perimeter of the that have a low level of natural surveillance
neighbourhood where most cars were parked are drawn based on the combination of the
on the street and in proximity to shops and following six variables: No window; No
large institutional buildings with poor ground floor window; Blank walls; High
natural surveillance. Bike theft has shown a fences; Boundary wall/plantation >1.50 m;
particularly high increase in several central Setbacks of >10.00 m, see figure 4(b).
London boroughs, including Camden and By using the GIS modelling technique
neighbouring Islington, since the introduction combined with photos, spatial and observa-
of congestion charging and a consequent tional data were layered to determine key
increase in cycling to work. Bike stands routes and areas with potential personal
and safe bike storage have not increased security/fear of crime problems - figure 4.
or improved to cope with this increase in This same approach has been applied
demand and the opportunity for thieves to to the quality of urban design within the
steal high value bikes for resale. area, where elements that contribute to a
Primary data collected from this test bed negative environment can include a lack



Figure 4(a). Permeability and ease to


Figure 4(b). Problematic routes to local transport and amenities.



layer is created. These and other aspects can

be further analysed by examining micro-
elements where specific problems are identi-
fied, and where barriers are expressed by
participants in user (resident and first-time
visitor) surveys.
The street audit and mapping model has
also been adopted by the regional trans-port
authority in their Guidance to Local Authorities
for Submission of Local Accessibility Schemes
(TfL, 2007, pp. 8–9). Here, using the street
design audit and mapping, street improve-
ments were undertaken in response to access
problems and user consultation through local
community access points, e.g. Sure Start,
disability, pensioner and residents/tenants
groups. Prior to the street improvement
scheme initiated by the local authority (Lon-
don Borough of Camden), an initial list of
measures was identified based on site visits
by borough and research officers (figure 5).
Once funding had been granted, a new
audit was carried out to reflect changes in
the local environment since the baseline,
and to include the input of some elderly
and disability groups in the borough. In the
latter case, conflicts between wheelchair users
(preferring step-free kerbs) and the visually
impaired who require the kerb to differentiate
pavement from road (by guide dog and stick)
emerged. This was not taken into account in
the street layout improvements, which has
necessitated retro-fitted legibility and traffic
calming interventions to be reversed by the
local authority at additional cost. This could
have been avoided if a more inclusive design
and street audit process had been undertaken
prior to the improvement scheme, which had
been influenced by general design guidance
(above) promoting ‘permeability’, without
considering the impact on different ability
Figure 5. Somerstown Accessibility Scheme Initial and user groups.
and Detailed Audits (in TfL, 2007).

GIS-P Community Mapping

of ‘enclosure’ (inadequate relation between
building height and street width), abnormal Following the comprehensive street audits
setbacks and ‘dead frontage’ (Azmin-Fouladi, and digital data analysis, leading to the
2005). By overlaying negative features, a new creation of the Street Design Index, small



group meetings and postal questionnaire from the GIS-P focus group with older
surveys were also conducted with residents, residents in Elm Village (figure 6), and from a
and accompanied map-walks organized with survey questionnaire of all residents (above).
participants as an experiential exercise to These highlighted both routes and features/
consult on their predetermined journeys. The sites with which participants had negative
use of questionnaires in residential neigh- associations or experiences, and useful
bourhoods produced a more representative details of journeys undertaken (e.g. local
sample and comparative data, aided by the shops, supermarket, cinema), their frequency
support of residents/tenants association and problems in the journey chain. These
and publicity in the estate newsletter. This included the resiting of bus stops separating
also afforded analysis by household type, bus services (where once they shared a
tenure and formation, location, age, gender single stop), inadequate crossings (islands
etc. Limitations to pedestrian access and too narrow for safety, controlled pedestrian
more frequent journeys included ‘fear of crossing times too short), treacherous
crime’ and ‘road safety’ as prime barriers, as ‘designer paving’ (sculpted, with weeds/grass
well as problems with walking surfaces and growing through) and anti-social behaviour
amenities, with specific problem features and and areas with poor surveillance.
areas annotated on maps. These participant This urban village with mixed tenure
comments were overlaid with problematic – owner occupied, shared ownership and
streets, routes and features delineated from rented – was originally built on new urbanist
the prior street audit which showed close principles by a social housing developer in
correlation, but also divergence (figures 8 the mid-1980s. The estate was the subject
and 9). of crime prevention interventions in the
Focus groups were also held with the late-1990s by the local police (Gamman and
use of large scale maps, through the GIS- Pascoe, 2004). Responding to a rise in
Participation (GIS-P) technique (Cinderby et burglaries and residents’ expressed fear of
al., 2006). Here participants – young children crime, typical crime prevention measures
and parents, residents, workers and older included alley-gating (the closing off of
people (figure 6) – were able to annotate alleyways and installing gates around/
these using text and colour-coded stickers on behind houses and other properties to reduce
the local area map, to mark their home and burglary access) and setback/doorway closure
journey routes, problem areas and amenities, in order to remove their use for rough-
and intermediate features such as bus stops sleepers, drug-dealers and general ‘hanging-
and facilities, e.g. public toilets, benches. out’. Both however restrict pedestrian access,
The next figures show the combination of close off regular routes and reduce quality of
street design audit and comments arising space and function between internal and

Figure 6. GIS-Participation groups mapping local routes and neighbourhood.



Figure 7. Barriers to accessing local bus stops and station (household and GIS-P surveys).

external spaces, as well as generally having be entirely efficient. Other gates either do
poor aesthetic quality. As Gamman and not complement the housing they were are
Pascoe (2004, p.11) observe in this and other supporting or they seem to have a criminal
cases: ‘some gates were not high enough to appearance. Ugly gates may reduce actual



recorded crime, but for some residents they

may also increase fear of crime’. This has been
the case here with displacement of crime/
anti-social behaviour, from burglary to street
crime and drug dealing, and a consequent
rise in fear of crime by some residents.
Fear of crime was also the barrier that
was ranked by far the highest by residents,
followed by road safety, pavements and
distance to amenities (figure 7). The walk
to the bus was the most problematic. A
growing concern was the effect of new
housing development on adjoining infill/
brownfield sites which reduced pedestrian
access (routes closed or made longer/unsafe)
and also reduced views and sight lines.
Major alterations to the streetscape present
particular problems to older people and
dementia sufferers for whom familiarity
and landmarks are important for confidence
in undertaking regular journeys (Mitchell,
Participant consultation conducted with
focus groups and individuals, using both
face-to-face and self-completed questionnaires
Figure 8. Synthesis of street audit with partici-
and annotated maps completed after guided pant focus groups and map walks.
map walks (figure 8), included older people,
as well as young (Bangladeshi) men, women,
single parents/mothers with toddlers. The design metrics and standards, where ‘one
results have been used to refine the journey size does not fit all’.
design assessment and GIS-based street The annotated maps were then analysed,
visualizations in an iterative design process, together with focus group and questionnaire
and practical design recommendations made. surveys, and mapped data digitized in
The feature attributes (Azmin-Fouladi, 2007a) GIS (figure 8). These were then integrated
in particular were validated with end-users with spatial data on demographic, land-
(residents groups, visitors), and with use, facility/amenity (e.g. bus stops, public
professionals with responsibility for the toilets), as well as recorded crime data for
urban, street and transport environments, the area, producing a synthesis between the
through a questionnaire with explanatory primary, qualitative information and spatial
images from the test bed area. These rated data. For instance, areas of high street crime
the various factors using a 5-point scale density were overlaid with participant’s
to determine both their inclusion as key own experience and perspective of safe(r)
barriers in the pedestrian environment and and unsafe areas (figure 9). These revealed
mobility, and their relative importance. This convergence, but also divergence between
validation and weighting can be re-applied where recorded crime was concentrated,
in each test bed and user group situation where street audits revealed problematic
to reflect local conditions, subjectivities and routes and areas – and other areas where
preferences. This is more flexible than fixed particular groups felt safe, unsafe or ‘feared’



crime (and anti-social behaviour). Extension of crime also depended on prior incidents (in-
of this GIS-based analysis has included the cluding those reported in the local media),
visualization of sight lines from particular reputation (e.g. gangs) and other local com-
points or along routes showing the field munity knowledge. This highlights the im-
of vision. Using this method, each relevant portance of not relying solely on street/
feature visible from a specific location has environmental design, movement and crime
been assigned a weighting, through a process analysis without participant input and
of consultation (above). This weighting con- observation. In this sense, space is socially
tributes towards an overall Index of Perme- produced, with local knowledge and practice
ability for the view point using Isovists, influencing travel behaviour and choice,
which identify the urban features visible which may vary across different user groups
from a specific point, extending the index to at different times of the day.
create a surface of permeability (Calnan and
Ellul, 2008).
Some reported factors were functional
and physical such as narrow streets, danger- The case study and visualizations presented
ous crossings (islands too small for wheel/ here draw together urban design (SDI), digital
pushchair chairs), lighting and poor surveil- data analysis (GIS), participant observation
lance, while others were social such as noise, and qualitative methods, but owing to
pubs/alcohol (e.g. Muslim young men). Fear brevity, represent a very small proportion of

Figure 9. Annotated mapwalks – young (Asian) men and single parents.



the spatial analysis and features which can programmes. A more inclusive design process
be captured through this set of techniques and accessible journey environment has been
(Azmin-Fouladi, 2007a; see also www.aunt- the goal. The whole journey environment In particular, the coding of features, and chain may seem a fraught governance
routes, areas, densities is best viewed in scenario, given the range of interests and
colour on screen/colour print maps and 3D disciplines responsible for individual ele-
visualizations ( Digi- ments. However, local authorities, the police
tizing annotated maps and correlating these and transport agencies (passenger transport
with spatial data for feedback in an iterative executives – PTEs) have the key role and
design process, can also be used for assessing powers in linking the pedestrian, road and
street improvements as well as interventions urban environment with the transport system,
such as extended transport routes and bus likewise central government ministries with
stop location and interchange. Actionable responsibilities for planning, transport and
find-ings have encompassed micro-street safety.
maintenance and management (figure 4. In order to promote this, a practitioner
above), and more strategic transport and network has been established, both to validate
land-use planning using this inclusive and exchange knowledge in the application
design approach. This complements and of this accessibility user needs model and
informs Local Development Framework to test further the street design index and
(borough plan) and Sustainable Community resulting journey planner in different loca-
Strategy exercises (DCLG, 2005, 2008), as tions and scenarios. This is important since
well as Local Transport Plans which form the relationship between local and neigh-
the basis of government funding of transport bourhood streets and transport routes, and
improvement, thereby demonstrating greater between neighbourhoods and adjoining
social inclusion and access in this process transport facilities is a prime example of
(DfT, 2005). poor coordination and land-use integration,
The triangulation of comprehensive map- and where the whole journey environment
ped digital data, with observational – human requires joining up between local and
and environmental – and systematic street transport authorities. This includes station
design analysis, combined with user consulta- interchange areas and approaches, new
tion on needs, aspirations and perceptions, is station based improvement and regeneration
an ambitious process. But we believe this is areas, and pedestrian routes highlighted from
a required approach given the complexities our user led research, which have been the
and ‘wicked problems’ (Harrison, 2000) that subject of our validation and further test bed
the urban environment presents. One that research.
moves beyond, but also draws upon, the The urban design approach outlined here,
physical access audit, street and place design which provides a menu of spatial factors
toolkits and consumer survey regimes, that and visualizations layered to produce com-
are currently used in quality of life assess- binations of linear and cluster analysis in
ments and performance indicators, and in both 2D and 3D, thus offers a powerful tool
accessibility benchmarks. In the development which can be used in community consultation
of AUNT-SUE, we have been conscious of the and planning; urban design modelling and
limitations and low take up of prescriptive scenario-building; and in creating an inter-
‘toolkits’, and developed a multi-criteria active spatial database as a resource for the
and more robust consultative basis which wide range of users and decision-makers in
combines and sits more closely with local/ the urban environment and transport fields.
transport authority and other stakeholder This will hopefully go some way to filling
data, policy and governance resources and the knowledge gap observed by Boarnet and



Crane (2000, p.14) ‘(it) is not that urban design Cinderby, S., Forrester, J. and Owen, A. (2006) A
and transportation behavior are not linked, Personal History of Participatory Geographic
Information Systems in the UK Context:
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AUNT-SUE has also sought to bridge the City of Edinburgh Council (2003) Standards
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