Reaching livability: designing accessible cities for all

Sanguinetti, Tomas (2017) Reaching livability: designing accessible cities for all. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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While sustainability dominates the discourse in urban theory and practice, a growing literature has recognized the importance of liveability in city-making. Livability is the sum of factors that contribute to a city's quality of life. One significant factor is access to services and goods for pedestrians, an aspect of planning that scholars and planners have long neglected. Accessible amenities fulfil a city’s function and are an essential component of ‘good urban form’: a material and ethical morphology of the city that privileges compactness and mixed land uses to integrate amenities and people. Cities around the world, especially those in North America, face challenges that stem from sprawling urban forms. As a result, constrains to access for the pedestrian abound. Importantly, this phenomenon exists beyond global and globalizing cities. Indeed, while the literature focuses on larger cities, there is an increasing need to explore and understand the fate of medium and smaller cities. This study contributes to the small city scholarship by offering a descriptive assessment of access to amenities in a mid-size Canadian city, St. John’s (NL), through an analysis of census and business microdata between 2006 and 2010. I argue that given St. John’s urban form (low-density, disconnected streets, low mix use, car-friendly), access to amenities is low across the metropolitan region. My findings have several significant results: first, the average minimum distances to amenities exceed the established walking standard of 500m across the St. John’s metropolitan area; second, there is a mismatch of population to amenity across the region; third, vulnerable demographic groups like the young and the elderly who are in higher need of amenities typically enjoy better access than others; and fourth, accessibility is better where urban form is more compact. Finally, I conclude that accessibility in St. John's is spatially unequal, but fairly equitable, and that areas with higher accessibility are concentrated in old City of St. John's.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 13313
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 150-173).
Keywords: Accessibility, Cities, Urban Planning, Pedestrians, Walkability
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Geography
Date: May 2017
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: City planning -- 21st century; Barrier-free design; St. John's (N.L.) -- Geography

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