A ten-year development of accessibility in the outdoor environment: municipal challenges and older people's perception

The overall aim of this thesis is to explore how the societal challenge of removing environmental barriers in the outdoor environment has been met in Sweden and how removing environmental barriers can affect the user perception of the outdoor environment. The thesis comprises two studies, the Municipality Study and the User Study. The Municipality Study explores implementation of accessibility policy in municipal transport planning. The implementation process is explored through the eyes of municipal transport planners, with a mixed-method approach. The process of implementation of accessibility policy is explored in a longitudinal perspective. The user perception of the outdoor environment, the User Study, is explored through the eyes of older people. The study is based on a previously executed study, where an intervention was carried out in one neighbourhood in a middle-sized town in Sweden. The User Study explores impact of an intervention on older people perception of the outdoor environment in a cross-sectional and longitudinal perspective. Results indicate that interventions in the outdoor environment facilitate walking for older people, even as they age. However, results also indicate that some municipalities are not working as actively as they should towards accessible outdoor environment. Some municipalities reduce their efforts as they perceive they have met the requirements of accessibility policy. Municipalities have reduced cooperation with interest organisations, which can only be considered as a regression in implementation of accessibility policy. This especially applies in light of results from the User Study. The user involvement in the User Study resulted in improved perception of the outdoor environment, even in a longitudinal perspective. Therefore, municipalities should cooperate with interest organisation in order to implement successful accessibility measures. Furthermore, municipal employees and politicians should understand that accessible outdoor environment will not be achieved with selective measures. Accessibility measures have to have good maintenance and be evaluated on regular basis. In conclusion, an environment designed to facilitate walking for people who are fragile, is an environment that is accessible for all. A person carrying luggage, a person with a pram, a person who is temporarily experiencing disability, but more importantly people who are experiencing long-term disability and limitations, all benefit from an accessible outdoor environment.


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  • Accession Number: 01631384
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI)
  • ISBN: 9789176238080
  • Files: ITRD, VTI
  • Created Date: Mar 30 2017 12:21PM