Summary: Virtually every municipality aspires to increase levels of walking and cycling, be it driven by the underlying goal of promotion health, mobility, or sustainability. How can urban design support these goals? Is a walkable neighbourhood also a bikeable neighbourhood? With different travel speeds and distances, there are likely to be important differences between walkability and bikeability. For example, while sidewalks are important for walking, bicycle routes and flat terrain are key factors for cyclists. Where do these modes have synergies, and where do they differ? Two independent research programs at the University of British Columbia are using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to investigate how the built environment influences healthy travel. One has a focus on walking, producing a Walkability Index for Metro Vancouver which provides an objective assessment of how the built environment supports walking, at the neighbourhood-scale. This Walkability Index consists of 4 factors: residential density, commercial density, connectivity, and land use mix. The second project has a focus on cycling, creating a new index for Bikeability based on empirical results from focus groups, an opinion survey and travel behavior studies. This Bikeability Index is comprised of five factors that consistently influenced cycling: bicycle route density; bicycle route quality; street connectivity; topography; and land use. Both of these tools have been applied in research and practice to understand how travel choices and activity patterns vary by neighbourhood types. This presentation will introduce the research behind walkability and bikeability. It will describe how areas of the region score in terms of walkability and bikeability, highlighting environments that support both modes and those that currently support only one or the other. This synthesis of evidence will stimulate ideas and novel approaches on how to design and plan for sustainable travel, and where opportunities exist for non-motorized modes.
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