Innovating Accessibility Planning Methodologies for Sustainable Urban and Regional Development: The case of Västra Götaland
Carey Curtis. From: Curtin University, Australia, to: University of Gothenburg.
Modern cities are traditionally built for car-based mobility. Increasing urbanization has lead to sprawling cities, congestion, longer travel times, increased levels of pollution with significant economic, social and environmental costs. Planning authorities have met these challenges by applying a sectoral approach. A growing body of research suggests an alternative 'integrated' approach would be more effective at resolving these significant and costly challenges that cities now face. The approach requires a shift from mobility-based to accessibility-based planning - striving not to supply for maximum mobility but for the best accessibility to desired activities.
The project further develops a body of international research in the field of accessibility planning for sustainable urban and regional development to the benefit of the region. The project comprises four parts. the development and refinement of accessibility tools for use in planning practice, a study of institutional barriers to sustainable transport planning, development and delivery of a short course for planners on sustainable accessibility planning and finally the development a longer term international research programme.
This research will bring together the Research group for Mobility and Accessibility at the University of Gothenburg, the Public Transport Planning Department at Västra Götalandsregionen and an internationally acclaimed researcher from Curtin University, Australia. This work will be a key factor in further strengthening the long-term collaboration between academia and the public sector. In this way it will strongly support the innovation milleu in Västra Götaland in the areas of Sustainable Transport Solutions and Urban Development.
Project Summary Results
This project has been focussed on innovating accessibility planning methodoogies for sustainable urban and regional development. The aim of was to develop an accessibility methodology to facilitate a new way of thinking within and across institutions, practitioners and community in order to aid coordination of action. Two lines of investigation have been undertaken. One involved the refinement of tools to measure spatial accessibility in order that future transport and urban development decisions can deliver a more sustainable approach where fewer journeys are made by car in urban areas. The other involved gaining insight into how institutions, through their policy aspiration, work for or against such implementation. Research based in Sweden was initiated because, at the metropolitan scale, Swedish cities appear to deliver a high level of spatial accessibility by public transport. In addition Sweden was seen as a world leader in introducing the idea of sustainable development. These were strong reasons for focusing the research in Sweden.
A mix of research methods has been employed, including field analysis, measurement and observation, GIS analysis of current accessibility at those activity centres that are well served by public transport in eight European cities; quantitative analysis of travel demand data compared to public transport supply; qualitative analysis of transport policy over a 70 year period in Stockholm and Gothenburg; and workshops and Interviews with practitioners.
Preliminary findings reveal that Swedish transport policy embraced the ideas of sustainable mobiliy at an early stage. There is, however, also a tale of two cities - whereby policy makers promoted and protected inner cities for public transport accessibility at the same time as promoting and delivering for car-based lifestyles for the rest of the city. This approach may well undermine the implementation of future sustainable accessibility. Public transport supply has delivered high levels of accessibility, compared to Australasian and American cities, but analysis of travel behaviour reveals areas of latent demand for public transport and of particular social groups being disadvantaged. The research has developed a new approach to gaining insight into latent demand. While public transport accessibility is generally good at the metropolitan scale, this is undermined by poor urban design and land use-transport integration at the scale of the activity centre. The research is developing a new tool to enable practitioners to consider and deliberate the design factors.