The development and testing of an objective and practical Flemish walkability tool
ISPAH ePoster Library. Van Acker R. Oct 16, 2018; 225220; 94
Dr. Ragnar Van Acker
Dr. Ragnar Van Acker
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Abstract IntroductionStudies worldwide have shown that living in high-walkable neighbourhoods is related to more physical activity. However, few practical tools are available to policy makers to assess neighbourhood walkability in order to prioritize neighbourhoods in need for environmental interventions. Therefore, the objective was to develop and test an objective walkability tool that can be used by policy makers in Flanders (Northern region of Belgium). Method:Walkability was calculated by following formula: walkability=(2*z-connectivity)+(z-residential density)+(z-land use mix). Based on the input of a panel of urban planners and policy makers, a prototype was developed using geographical information systems (GIS). This prototype was tested and adjusted based on focus groups with civil servants in five municipalities of different scales. ResultsA user friendly open-source walkability tool was developed. Users can indicate their local neighbourhoods of interest to calculate and compare walkability scores. A manual with guidelines on the interpretation of the score is incorporated in the tool. ConclusionThis Flemish walkability tool is probably the first European tool that maps and compares the objective walkability scores of neighbourhoods in a large region. This tool will be disseminated to policy makers, civil servants, private organisations and citizens as part of a larger project on health in local spatial policies. It provides support in making more evidence-based decisions on spatial planning and design. The tool will stimulate them in the further development of a more integral local (health) policy (e.g. integration of physical activity in spatial policy). External funding details This project is funded by the Flemish Government.
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