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Walkability: Perceived and measured qualities in action [ITU J Faculty Arch]
ITU J Faculty Arch. 2014; 11(2): 101-117

Walkability: Perceived and measured qualities in action

Özlem Özer, Ayşe Sema Kubat
Istanbul Technical University, Faculty of Architecture, Department of Urban & Regional Planning, İstanbul, TURKEY

The research into walkability has two common approaches to the variables: one depends on measuring the spatial configuration of street networks and the other depends on operationalizing urban design qualities such as imageability, enclosure, transparency and complexity by measuring the actual physical environment. Environmental perception has often been a subject in research into wayfinding behaviour, but not so much in research into walkability.

In this paper, we argue that it is possible to obtain a more accurate walkability forecast by comparing spatial configuration measures with the environmental perceptions of pedestrians to evaluate their effects on pedestrian movement levels.

In order to do this comparison, three case areas were selected, all of which are central retail districts in İstanbul, and which have a similar socio-economic user profile, similar public and private transportation links with the city and a similar relationship with the waterfront. All the three case areas were limited to cover a 1km x 0.5km area. The similar qualities of the three case areas are expected to offset the effects of land use, user profile, transportation links and recreational qualities.

The research was conducted in three basic steps. The first step was to record pedestrian movement levels in approximately 20 locations in each case area. The second step was to apply space syntax methodology to measure spatial configuration. The third step was to conduct a questionnaire to understand how users perceive those exact observation locations. The questionnaire made use of a semantic differential technique where participants are given pairs of oppositional adjectives with a rating scale.

The data recorded in this study was analysed statistically to define the correlational relationships among the three variables, which are pedestrian movement levels, spatial configuration and user perception. It is believed that the results of this study will contribute to a better understanding not only of the walkability measures, but also of the level of relation between the space syntax methodology and pedestrian perception. The method and the findings of this study constitute an analytical model that could shed fresh light on future research on walkability as well as on controlling levels of use within urban design proposals.

Keywords: Walkability, space syntax, semantic differential, urban design

Özlem Özer, Ayşe Sema Kubat. Walkability: Perceived and measured qualities in action. ITU J Faculty Arch. 2014; 11(2): 101-117

Corresponding Author: Özlem Özer, Türkiye

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