Special Issue "Walkable living environments"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2019.

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Beniamino Murgante Website E-Mail
School of Engineering, University of Basilicata, 10 Viale dell’Ateneo Lucano, 85100 Potenza, Italy
Interests: spatial planning; spatial simulation; geodemographics; geographic data analysis of socio-economic and population data; planning 2.0; participation 2.0; e-democracy; e-participation
Guest Editor
Prof. Ivan Blecic E-Mail
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Architecture, University of Cagliari, Cagliari, 09123, Italy
Interests: urban sustainability appraisal, simulation and evaluation models for planning and urban, territorial and environmental public policies, decision support systems, urban walkability assessment methods and tools, cellular automata models, agent-based models, urban capabilities measurements and evaluation
Guest Editor
Dr. Tanja Congiu E-Mail
Department of Architecture, Design and Urban Planning, University of Sassari, P.zza Civica 6, Alghero, 07041, Italy
Interests: non-motorised transports, integrated LU&Transport planning; sustainable and active travel policies, urban walkability, analysis and evaluation of travel behaviours and individual preferences, impacts of transports on environment, safety, quality of life and human capabilities, sustainable transportation systems, urban street planning and design

Special Issue Information

Planning and design for walkable living environments represents an important, useful and feasible challenge for cities and regions.

It is important for the quality of life of everyone, first of all for disadvantaged groups of inhabitants.

It is important for individual and public health, because it decreases traffic, pollution, noise and promotes healthier lifestyles.

It is important for people’s safety and security because it makes urban destinations and opportunities easily accessible and protected from traffic and risk of crime. It also improves the quality of built environment making urban streets more livable, comfortable, pleasant and vibrant; in other words, making them an attractive component of the system of public spaces of cities.    

Walking is useful for a number of reasons: it enables individuals to effectively use the city, fulfilling their needs and being independent and self reliant; it encourages people to interact as well.

Making built environment walkable is possible and feasible by means of small, low cost interventions with immediate effect on everyday life.

When walking extends beyond the boundaries of the compact city, it allows people to experience new relationship with the surrounding landscape and acts as a driver for marginal areas rediscovery and regeneration.

For all these beneficial impacts and for many other direct and indirect effects, the implementation of urban policies and projects fostering walkability represents an effective opportunity for cities to improve their liveability.

This special issue on walkable cities and territories is directed to researchers and practitioners from different disciplines and domains interested in advancing knowledge and action around the incorporation of walkability concerns in urban planning and design practice. It aims to promote a cross-sectorial exchange on how to effectively make urban environment more liveable, sustainable, healthy and equitable.

Scholars are invited to discuss the multiple opportunities an approach oriented towards an “active accessibility” can bring about to improve the urban quality of life in terms of physical improvement of public space, activation and strengthening of links, functionalities and social relationships between urban elements and people, extension of people’s independence in “using” the city as well as in terms of benefits to individual and collective well-being.

This debate on walkable cities is intended also as a place to systematise technical knowledge together with experiences in the practice. The recognition of the multiple dimensions and operational applications of walkability can, on one hand, support scholars and practitioners in the revision of methods for the evaluation of the quality of life of cities from the point of view of pedestrians; and can, on the other hand, provide support in the formulation of urban policies and projects tailored to pedestrian needs and behaviours, making planning and decision making processes more effective.

 

Key subjects 

 

-       Multiple facets and operational applications of walkability concept in integrated land use and transport planning

-       Walkability, urban capabilities and quality of life

-       Urban walkability and public health

-       Use of walkability measures and evaluation methods as decision making support systems

-       “Smart” innovations in the acquisition of data and use of intelligent systems for the extraction and organisation of structured set of information.

-       Shared protocols for the comparison of different urban walkability measures

-       The objective and subjective dimensions of urban walkability

-       Walkability over the boundaries of the compact city. Walkability of spatial settings with diverse gradient of urbanization

 

Prof. Beniamino  Murgante
Prof. Ivan  Blecic
Dr. Tanja  Congiu
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1700 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Setting the Methodological Framework for Accessibility in Geo-Mining Heritage Settings—An Ongoing Study of Iglesiente Area (Sardinia, Italy)
Sustainability 2019, 11(13), 3556; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11133556 - 28 Jun 2019
Abstract
This paper aims to discover why and how accessibility is fundamental to sustainable local development in heritage settings. We discussed the dimensions and variables of accessibility that control the development. Correspondingly, we proposed an interpretative framework for sustainable development planning and management of [...] Read more.
This paper aims to discover why and how accessibility is fundamental to sustainable local development in heritage settings. We discussed the dimensions and variables of accessibility that control the development. Correspondingly, we proposed an interpretative framework for sustainable development planning and management of low urbanized spatial settings and accessibility for the Iglesiente Geo-mining heritage in Sardinia (Italy). The Iglesiente area is affected by a deep post-mining crisis that is reflected in poor socioeconomic conditions and an evident space oriented set of problems (a disorder in landscape matrix, low readability of space, scarce infrastructure and low accessibility). To revert negative trends of space-related problems, the paper proposes a theoretical model acting as an anticipatory landscape planning tool. The model copes with the context-specific problems in combination with theoretical findings. It acts at various scales through the definition of boundaries and variables of the internal and external environment, providing the territorial matrix of equity and cohesion. Furthermore, we argued the limitation and advantages of the model to its implementation capacity for the Geo-mining heritage and low-urbanized spatial settings. The empirical findings from an ongoing project about accessibility to territorial knowledge and services in the Iglesiente area, currently in progress, allow us to test and adjust the methodological framework in the next steps. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Walkable living environments)
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Open AccessArticle
Attitude Toward Sustainable Transport as a Function of Source and Argument Reliability and Anticipated Emotions
Sustainability 2019, 11(12), 3288; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11123288 - 14 Jun 2019
Abstract
The progressive development of mass communication has allowed the understanding and management of the persuasion process in a more systematic way. However, nowadays, persuasive campaigns still hardly result in behavior changes, particularly around concerns of the promotion of more sustainable lifestyles. Thus, it [...] Read more.
The progressive development of mass communication has allowed the understanding and management of the persuasion process in a more systematic way. However, nowadays, persuasive campaigns still hardly result in behavior changes, particularly around concerns of the promotion of more sustainable lifestyles. Thus, it appears essential to investigate which dimensions are more effective in influencing people’s pro-environmental actions. Relying on the conceptual frameworks provided by the elaboration likelihood model (ELM) and the model of goal-directed behavior (MGB), a questionnaire study (n = 380 urban residents) was carried out on the psycho-social antecedents of the intention to use sustainable means of transport. Structural equation modeling showed the mediating role of attitudes toward sustainable transport between ELM persuasion features (i.e., source reliability and argument reliability) and behavioral intention. Positive and negative anticipated emotions, derived from MGB, predict source reliability (the former) and argument reliability (the latter), respectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Walkable living environments)
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Open AccessArticle
The Effect of Soundscapes and Lightscapes on the Perception of Safety and Social Presence Analyzed in a Laboratory Experiment
Sustainability 2019, 11(11), 3000; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11113000 - 28 May 2019
Abstract
The present study evaluates the effect of soundscape and lightscape variations on the perceived safety and perceived social presence in a pedestrian area through laboratory experiments. Thirty-one participants were presented with nine different virtual scenarios, in which the same underpass was reproduced under [...] Read more.
The present study evaluates the effect of soundscape and lightscape variations on the perceived safety and perceived social presence in a pedestrian area through laboratory experiments. Thirty-one participants were presented with nine different virtual scenarios, in which the same underpass was reproduced under different soundscape and lightscape conditions. The participants were asked to assess each scenario considering 10 items related to perceived safety and perceived social presence. A principal component analysis allowed the 10 items to be reduced to two principal components, namely “perceived safety” and “perceived social presence”. A two-way repeated measures ANOVA analysis was conducted to assess the effect of modifications of both the soundscape and lightscape on the two components. The obtained results showed that the soundscape had an effect on both the perceived safety (p < 0.05) and perceived social presence (p < 0.05), while the lightscape variations implemented in this experiment only had a statistically significant effect on the latter (p < 0.05). The results of such studies may be of interest for public design and management as they may be conducted by means of non-intrusive and cost-effective techniques. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Walkable living environments)
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Open AccessArticle
Walkability and Resilience: A Qualitative Approach to Design for Risk Reduction
Sustainability 2019, 11(10), 2878; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11102878 - 21 May 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Quality of life and well-being are hardly ever an issue when life itself is at stake. The advantages of high-quality walkable streets and public spaces are underestimated when larger problems need to be addressed first and seemingly more serious solutions need to be [...] Read more.
Quality of life and well-being are hardly ever an issue when life itself is at stake. The advantages of high-quality walkable streets and public spaces are underestimated when larger problems need to be addressed first and seemingly more serious solutions need to be applied. Hence, a quantitative approach to evacuation route planning and design prevails over a qualitative one or at least a hybrid one. The scope of the ongoing study partially presented in this paper is to find methods for addressing the complicated present and the disastrous future at the same time. The one applied in the case study reported here—Susaki City in Kōchi Prefecture, Japan, which is preparing for the next Nankai earthquake and tsunami, expected sometime soon—was a cycle of active research and international workshops organized in cooperation with the local community and administration. The aim was to understand the challenges that concern the design of dual spaces that are suitable for both everyday life and emergency situations and are connected by walkable spaces. As a result, the paper offers insight into the limits of punctual treatments as well as the relativity of objective and subjective dimensions of urban walkability in the context of risk. Despite the complexity of the issue, a walkable built environment was revealed to be a countermeasure rather than a fad. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Walkable living environments)
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Open AccessArticle
A Methodological Framework for Assessing Practicability of the Urban Space: The Survey on Conditions of Practicable Environments (SCOPE) Procedure Applied in the Case Study of Cagliari (Italy)
Sustainability 2018, 10(11), 4189; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10114189 - 14 Nov 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Children’s independent activities within public spaces emerge as a fundamental condition for their development considered in the context of their needs: socialization, movement, autonomy, and enrichment of their creative, imaginative, and cognitive potential. The promotion of their independence represents a relevant issue for [...] Read more.
Children’s independent activities within public spaces emerge as a fundamental condition for their development considered in the context of their needs: socialization, movement, autonomy, and enrichment of their creative, imaginative, and cognitive potential. The promotion of their independence represents a relevant issue for implementing the smart city paradigm. This paradigm calls for a methodological framework where the urban fabric’s performance is evaluated via comprehensive analytic protocols. The proposed study presents an audit tool for evaluating the quality of urban spaces in terms of their practicability by children: the Survey on Conditions of Practicable Environments (SCOPE). The practicability of this research is establishing the quality of urban spaces’ usability, and it is expressed in terms of compositional, configurational, functional, and social factors of the built environment organized within a framework articulated in seven key dimensions (connectivity, convenience, comfort, commitment, conviviality, conspicuousness, and coexistence). The introduction of the concept of practicability and of indicators incorporating the demand for a children-sensitive perspective in the project of public spaces determine the novelty of the SCOPE procedure. This methodology was applied to an area in Central Cagliari, Italy, to evaluate the usability of public spaces. The results reveal that the proposed methodology is relevant for implementing the smart city paradigm because it addresses children’s autonomy and their rights to the city by selecting and defining indicators to clarify and assess conditions of the built environment conducive to children’s autonomy and independent social activities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Walkable living environments)
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Open AccessArticle
Age Factor and Pedestrian Speed on Sidewalks
Sustainability 2018, 10(11), 4084; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10114084 - 07 Nov 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Pedestrian infrastructures feature the spaces where every user accesses all the mobility forms: in fact, every movement begins and finishes with a walking section. For this reason, it is very important to pay more attention towards what is said “last mile”, that must [...] Read more.
Pedestrian infrastructures feature the spaces where every user accesses all the mobility forms: in fact, every movement begins and finishes with a walking section. For this reason, it is very important to pay more attention towards what is said “last mile”, that must be designed and constructed to be easily used from the major part of users, with a special attention to more disadvantage citizens. Among all pedestrian characteristics, the least considered is speed, and when it is considered, the reference is the mean speed, that is the speed of the most likely common user. There are numerous and simultaneous factors that influence pedestrian behavior. The age factor mainly determines the psycho-physical characteristics and therefore the behavior. In the present study, it has been observed the behavior on sidewalks with reference to age. The study is based on a survey carried out in the downtown of Oristano, with a total pedestrian flow of 14,182 users. The purpose is, first, to understand how pedestrian speed varies with age, and subsequently to assess if a statistical model exists to describe the pedestrian behavior by age. After a general analysis of pedestrian behavior, the paper focused on users walking not alone but within a flow. The research considers pedestrian speed in real conditions and not isolated pedestrian speed because a pedestrian, inevitably, interacts with other pedestrians and this provides a particular condition. For this reason, the main analysis is based on a subdataset formed by the 2794 individual pedestrians. The analysis shows that there is not a linear relationship between speed and age, but it is better to consider a polynomial model between the mean individual pedestrian speed, mean walking speed and age class. Results show that speed of individual pedestrians decreases as age increases; younger pedestrians walk faster than others, with a difference of 19.2% respect to older ones. This decrease can be represented by a statistical model. The model also shows that there is not a linear relationship between speed and age, but it is better to consider a polynomial model between the mean individual pedestrian speed, mean walking speed and age class. It is necessary to underline this aspect because many efforts have been made all over the world to promote sustainable mobility. Walking is one of the most important aspect of sustainability, so we will aspect an increase of the number of new walking citizens. But it is necessary to consider how population is growing, with a growing number of senior citizens. It is for these users that we will have to plan in the future. In conclusion, the paper studied the mean individual pedestrian speed and its relationship with age and mean walking speed, finding statistical models able to interpret pedestrian behavior; the choice of the mean individual pedestrian speed as dependent variable is the novelty of the study because analyzes a real condition. In fact, the most common case is that of a pedestrian walking within a flow, and not alone. This is an element distinguishing this study from many others. For this reason, this study can help to improve research in this area and could be useful to understand how to plan and to design pedestrian infrastructures. It would also be important to apply this method to other cities with similar characteristics to verify the real transferability of the model and, consequently, of the results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Walkable living environments)
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Open AccessArticle
Mobility Policies and Extra-Small Projects for Improving Mobility of People with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 3256; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093256 - 12 Sep 2018
Abstract
The paper focuses on the relationship between cities and people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Specifically, this research aims to provide practical guidelines on how to design urban policies and urban design projects, such that they improve the capabilities of people with ASD [...] Read more.
The paper focuses on the relationship between cities and people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Specifically, this research aims to provide practical guidelines on how to design urban policies and urban design projects, such that they improve the capabilities of people with ASD to walk across the city and access relevant public urban spaces and facilities. Although this is a well-defined field of research, this paper should be seen as a contribution to the debate on the understanding of disability as a product of processes of human-environment interaction and as an attempt to address issues of mobility for people with disabilities by taking into account their personal characteristics and capabilities. Current methodological and operational efforts on the role of spatial configuration as a means for improving the autonomy of people with ASD focus almost exclusively on the design of closed, separated, private spaces, devoted only to people with ASD (mainly children). Starting from these considerations, the paper describes a research project aimed at defining an integrated set of urban mobility policies and extra-small urban design projects to provide people with ASD a real opportunity of using their city. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Walkable living environments)
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Open AccessArticle
Perceived Walkability, Social Capital, and Self-Reported Physical Activity in Las Vegas College Students
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 3023; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093023 - 25 Aug 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
College students are an understudied, vulnerable population, whose inactivity rates exceed those reported by U.S. adults. Walkability in sprawling cities, such as Las Vegas, is challenged due to automobile-oriented development. The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between perceived neighborhood [...] Read more.
College students are an understudied, vulnerable population, whose inactivity rates exceed those reported by U.S. adults. Walkability in sprawling cities, such as Las Vegas, is challenged due to automobile-oriented development. The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between perceived neighborhood walkability, social capital, and meeting physical activity recommendations among University of Nevada-Las Vegas college students. Of the 410 participants, 42.2% met physical activity recommendations, 77.1% were female, 37.3% were white, and 79.5% owned a vehicle. Logistic regression showed that social capital (odds ratio (OR) = 1.25, p = 0.04) and gender (OR = 0.49, p <0.01) were the only positive indicators of physical activity; no perceived walkability subscales were significant. Findings confirm that social factors remain an important health determinant and that females continue to be less active than males. The authors speculate that sprawl characteristics may impact perceived walkability and act as a deterrent, or that it is the social norm to commute and complete errands by vehicle. It may also be that the survey tool used was unable to account for confounding variables associated with sprawl. Supporting social capital may be one approach to increase physical activity. Fostering walkability makes urban environments more livable, sustainable, healthy, and equitable; thus, further research into the relationship between walkability and physical activity in college students is needed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Walkable living environments)
Open AccessArticle
Effects on Public Health of Heat Waves to Improve the Urban Quality of Life
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1082; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041082 - 04 Apr 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Life satisfaction has been widely used in recent studies to evaluate the effect of environmental factors on individuals’ well-being. In the last few years, many studies have shown that the potential impact of climate change on cities depends on a variety of social, [...] Read more.
Life satisfaction has been widely used in recent studies to evaluate the effect of environmental factors on individuals’ well-being. In the last few years, many studies have shown that the potential impact of climate change on cities depends on a variety of social, economic, and environmental determinants. In particular, extreme events, such as flood and heat waves, may cause more severe impacts and induce a relatively higher level of vulnerability in populations that live in urban areas. Therefore, the impact of climate change and related extreme events certainly influences the economy and quality of life in affected cities. Heat wave frequency, intensity, and duration are increasing in global and local climate change scenarios. The association between high temperatures and morbidity is well-documented, but few studies have examined the role of meteo-climatic variables on hospital admissions. This study investigates the effects of temperature, relative humidity, and barometric pressure on health by linking daily access to a Matera (Italy) hospital with meteorological conditions in summer 2012. Extreme heat wave episodes that affected most of the city from 1 June to 31 August 2012 (among the selected years 2003, 2012, and 2017) were analyzed. Results were compared with heat waves from other years included in the base period (1971–2000) and the number of emergency hospital admissions on each day was considered. The meteorological data used in this study were collected from two weather stations in Matera. In order to detect correlations between the daily emergency admissions and the extreme health events, a combined methodology based on a heat wave identification technique, multivariate analysis (PCA), and regression analysis was applied. The results highlight that the role of relative humidity decreases as the severity level of heat waves increases. Moreover, the combination of temperatures and daily barometric pressure range (DPR) has been identified as a precursor for a surveillance system of risk factors in hospital admissions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Walkable living environments)
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Open AccessConcept Paper
Walkable Environments and Healthy Urban Moves: Urban Context Features Assessment Framework Experienced in Milan
Sustainability 2019, 11(10), 2778; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11102778 - 15 May 2019
Abstract
Recent studies in public health have focused on determining the influences of the built environment on the population’s physical and mental health status. In order to promote active transport and physical activity, considered favorable behavior for the prevention non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as [...] Read more.
Recent studies in public health have focused on determining the influences of the built environment on the population’s physical and mental health status. In order to promote active transport and physical activity, considered favorable behavior for the prevention non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as obesity, it is necessary to reduce the negative effects of the built environment and develop positive ones, such as, for example, a walkable urban space. The aim of the research is to define a city’s walkability assessment framework capable of highlighting points of strength and weakness in its urban environment. All of the aspects that have a direct influence (evidence-based) on fostering the adoption of healthy lifestyles or promoting active transport as a strategy to increase the level of physical activity due to the existence of daily urban travel should be considered. After conducting a literature review aimed at identifying all of the existing assessment tools, 20 research studies were examined in detail. The new evaluation method arises from the comparison and critical selection of the various qualitative–quantitative indicators found, integrated into a multi-criteria analysis structure of dual-scale survey, with reference to walkability and paying attention to those indicators that have implications on health promotion. The new assessment framework, named Milano Walkability Measurement (MWM), is applicable in different urban contexts and was tested in two different areas of Milan. The Macro dimension (i.e., Density, Diversity, and Design criteria) refers to the urban scale and examines the city from a top view. It describes quantitatively the overall urban factors (urban area size equal to 1.5 Km2; typology of data: archival). The Micro dimension (i.e., Usefulness, Safeness, Comfort, and Aesthetics criteria) investigates the city at the street scale level. It describes qualitatively features of the outdoor spaces (road length of about 500/700 mt; typology of data: observational). Finally, the framework was weighted by comparison with a panel of experts. The expected results were reflected in the design recommendations based on the collected qualitative-quantitative data. The developed assessment method brings innovative criteria such as the multi-scaling assessment phase (Macro and Micro) and the ability to take into consideration aspects that according to the literature have relationships with health promotion linked to the improvement of a healthy lifestyle, related to daily active transportation choices. The design recommendations are useful both to policy-makers, to make evidence-based specific choices, and to designers, to understand what aspects of the urban environment must be improved or implemented in order to promote a walkable city. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Walkable living environments)
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