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Developing a composite indicator for the 15-minute city concept based on accessibility measures and assessment of spatial inequalities of different socio-demographic groups

Knap, Elizabeth (2022) Developing a composite indicator for the 15-minute city concept based on accessibility measures and assessment of spatial inequalities of different socio-demographic groups.

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Abstract:The increasing population density in urban areas and concerns regarding sustainability and public health are cause for a need for more urban residents to adopt active mobility modes. Also, due to the covid-19 lockdowns and associated health concerns, people were motivated to adopt active modes rather than public transport. Lockdown restrictions brought to light transport inequalities particularly for the population groups relying on public transport, and already present underlying problems in spatial planning, with accessibility to some services low in certain areas. The 15-minute city - the idea of having basic needs and services within 15 minutes cycling or walking from one’s home – aims to address issues concerning transport equality. It is argued that being in proximity of services can reduce car use, increase transport equity and traffic safety. However, there is limited research on the 15-minute city concept considering that the notion is relatively new and not comprehensively studied. Therefore, available methods and tools to measure a cities’ progress towards becoming a 15-minute city are still missing. This research aims to develop a methodology for quantifying the 15-minute city through accessibility analysis. For this purpose, an x-minute city metric (CSx) was developed and tested for cycling mode in a study area in the Netherlands. From the literature, nine different destination types were defined that are deemed important in the 15-minute city. Travel data from the Netherlands mobility panel (pre- and during covid) was analysed to determine input characteristics such as importance of destination types and distance decay functions. Standardized gravity-based 2-step floating catchment area (2SFCA) accessibility measures for all destination types were weighted and aggregated into a composite indicator that shows relative score as an x-minute city. The methodology was tested in a case study in the city of Utrecht, the Netherlands, and its surrounding suburbs. Results show that the city centre of Utrecht is largely a 15-minute city, as well as the centres of some of the surrounding suburbs. A 10-minute analysis was also conducted, showing that some areas do not have access to all services within 10 minutes cycling. Furthermore, some areas, such as the city centre, score higher as a 10-minute city than as a 15-minute city, but the areas right around the city centre as well as the edges of the suburbs benefit from a larger threshold travel time and score higher as a 15-minute city. Spatial regression on the 10-minute city score shows that population density, housing type, percentage of people with immigration background, and percentage children under 15 years old relate to the 10-minute city score. In a scenario analysis, new planned cycling connections were added in the network and assessed using the metric. Score improved in some areas as a result of the new connections but decreased in some places as a result of increased demand. Overall, the results show that some areas score much lower and might benefit from better cycling connections and/or more directed spatial planning of services. The developed indicator can be used to assess cities on their way towards becoming a 15-minute city, prioritise neighbourhoods to develop, set quantifiable goals, and evaluate planning scenarios.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:ET: Engineering Technology
Subject:56 civil engineering
Programme:Civil Engineering and Management MSc (60026)
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