Walking as a transport mode : Examining the role of preconditions, planning aspects and personal traits for the urban pedestrian
Abstract: The overall aim of this thesis is to examine how walking as a transport mode is constructed in the planning realm, affected by the built environment and perceived by the individual. This aim is related to the following research questions: (1) How are pedestrians and walking understood, constructed and perceived in the planning context? (2) How does individual traits and the built environment affect the propensity of walking?The thesis starts off by arguing for the need of a holistic take on walking as a mode of transport (Study A). A framework building on the actor-network theory concepts of Paper I is used to overcome this. Study B adresses research question 1 and specifically concerns the role of the planning paradigm instrumental rationality with respect to walking. The aim is to explore to what extent pedestrian planning has subscribed to the methods employed within the limits of instrumental rationality. The study draws on planning material and data from interviews with urban and transport planners in three municipalities in the southern part of Sweden (Malmö, Lund, and Helsingborg). The analysed material displays walking as increasingly being included in planning exercises, although not with a consistent and thought-out strategy proceeding from instrumental rationality. Study C acts as the quantitative study and addresses research question 2. The three included papers (III, IV and V) all use data from the same questionnaire concerning walking behaviour and perceptions in three neighbourhoods in Malmö, Sweden, albeit with differing approaches and analysis. Paper III draws on a time geographical conceptualisation of the individual’s limits in order to explore her/his different ratings of the importance of both time and distance as factors in the decision to walk. Two variables which were intended to represent coupling constraints were associated with a positive increase in the likelihood of giving the importance of time a higher rating than the importance of distance. The findings suggest that time and distance cannot be treated as interchangeable measures. Paper IV employs a conceptual model addressing both perceptions of the built environment and perceived limits due to every-day activities as a standpoint for examining walking behaviour. The analysis revealed a resemblence with the theoretical interpretation and a significant assocation with walking propensity for the rating of one factor addressing the perceived constraints of every-day activities. Paper V aims to examine how preferences for residential choice and modal choice play out regarding walking frequency. The study design treated preferences as explicit variables predicting the amount of walking in a neighbourhood. The analysis indicated that heterogeneous preferences resulted in a heterogeneous response, in terms of walking frequency.
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