Transit station area walkability: Identifying impediments to walking using scalable, recomputable land-use measures
Keywords:first/last mile problem, viewsheds, walkability, transit, openstreetmap
Transit station area land-use characteristics can increase or decrease the perceived costs of riding rail relative to driving or taking other modes. This paper focuses on those characteristics that create discomfort to riders who are walking between stations and destinations, with the aim of providing researchers and planners with a tool that can be used to identify pain points in any existing or potential station areas. We propose and demonstrate a scalable, recomputable method of measuring pedestrian quality for trips that relies solely on datasets readily available for almost any location in the United States, and we compare results using data from a global source, OpenStreetMap. We illustrate our tool in neighborhoods surrounding the Blue Line light rail in Minneapolis, Minnesota, calculating the population-weighted distribution of land uses within pathway buffers of walks from stations to nearby destinations. We focus on land uses that pose a disutility to pedestrians such as major highways or industrial tracts, and we compare disamenity levels across station areas. Despite their simplicity, our measures capture important differences in land-use-related pedestrian experiences and reveal the inadequacy of using circular buffers to designate and characterize station catchment areas.
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