The Covid19 pandemic accelerated interest in health, wellbeing and walkable cities. It was evident that access to facilities and green spaces were critical for citizens' physical and mental health. Lockdown restrictions allowed and encouraged people to get outside and have an hour of physical exercise. For many communities this was limited to footpaths as access to green spaces was difficult or beyond a walkable distance.
In default planning exercises, especial for early briefs or access and design statements, it's often commonplace to use straight-line radius from a centre point to define citizen accessibility to facilities and parks. This analysis is less likely to capture accessibility by actual walking distance.
What is “ped shed”
A pedestrian shed (ped shed) defines the pedestrian catchment of a location related to the walking distance to or from a destination rather than a radius from a centre point. It is the area encompassed by the walking distance from a local community asset, town center, neighborhood center, or other location.
Ped sheds are often defined as the area covered by a 5-minute walk (about 0.25 miles, 1,320 feet, or 400 meters) as we would comfortably walk this distance everyday. Ped Sheds can be defined as the basic building blocks for walkable cities and should be considered in all urban planning exercises.
By generating these ped sheds, urban planners can determine comparative estimates of how easy it is to travel within the location under review and how they can optimize the design.
Radius in Meter and direct distance. This distance type creates a buffer by using straight-line distance (Euclidean distance) from the facilities (ex. within 300 meters from the parks). The resulting layer is a circular buffer showing equal distance from the parks.
While simple to do, this analysis has important weaknesses as it assumes that people can walk through houses and other obstacles.
Route in Meter and walking distance. This distance type creates a buffer by using the network-distance from the facilities. The resulting layer is an irregular polygon showing the actual distance traversed using the road network. A 400 metre distance is generally seen as the distance we would comfortably walk every day. This is the default mode in PlaceChangers Site Insights.
Route in Minutes and walking distance. This distance type creates a buffer by measuring the actual distance that can be traversed in a given time period from the facilities, for example within five minutes from green space areas. Walking speed differs as we age and this analysis can account for needs of different user groups.
The last two years have heightened the focus on sustainable, Net Zero development and urban planners are therefore more interested than ever before, in determining the walkability within urban areas and the ease of access to public facilities within them.
In order to decrease the carbon footprints generated by these expanding urban centers, increased density developments and refurbishment of existing infrastructure, people should be able to walk more and make the most of facilities such as recreational areas, health, education and transport facilities.
This is where ped shed analysis based on actual walking distances enables better design and planning of built environment projects to ensure better health and wellbeing outcomes for communities.
Access to iterative mapping of ped sheds allows planners and designers to quickly adjust their designs to ensure better community outcomes. The recognition of the health and wellbeing aspects of walkable city status means more authorities are requesting that these be considered in development applications. These applications can easily be generated from the PlaceChangers platform.
Analysis which properly considers network-distance, such as available in PlaceChangers Site Insights, is much more realistic than straight line distances, since it considers the actual road network distance and any physical barriers in the way. By generating these ped sheds, urban planners can determine comparative estimates of how easy it is to travel within the location and how they can optimize the design for effective and efficient development projects.
Digital platform like PlaceChangers provide enhanced capabilities that enable you to deliver a graphic representation of the area surrounding a particular destination that can be reached on foot within a specific walking time. These kinds of coverage maps reflect accessibility more accurately than coverage by straight line distance and effectively highlight issues and opportunities with greater nuance.
With tools like PlaceChangers, a designer or planner can simply drop a pin on the interactive map on the PlaceChangers platform and then plot the areas that are within a five-minute walk from urban centers. The maps generated are called isochrone maps depicting areas of equal travel time.
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