Technology is the new democracy for the urban planning: in Conversation with Tiffanie Yamashita

Tiffanie Yamashita is an urban systems engineer and collaborate with Systematica from 8 consecutive years. She started as an intern for her final-year program at the Université Technologique de Compiègne, gradually gained confidence and today she is one of the five Project Managers guiding Systematica’s most complex assignments worldwide. The multidisciplinary approach of her degree allowed her to keep a holistic vision to tackle urban issues within a specific consultancy field such as the transport planning and mobility engineering.

The advisory activities of Systematica have the aim to develop planning and design strategies to promote sustainable way of moving while caring about the urban and architectural quality of the projects. The role with Tiffanie’s team is to develop analytical studies that support arguments to defend strategic design solutions with evidence-based in a communicative way, in order to help their clients in their decision-making process.

Q: What are the main mobility challenges in your area of interest?

TY: The richness of my work comes from the great variety of projects I work on, depending on their nature, scale and the socio-geographical contexts; a variety that comes along shades of mobility challenges we need to deal with in our everyday work. The type of client is the first discriminant: the public authorities have (or should have) as their main target the acceptance of the project by the locals and the functionality of the new development while for the private developer, the approval from the public authorities is a must and aspires for a successful project, also investment-wise. The consultancy activity should keep in mind those variables and propose solutions that could be implemented realistically. The main challenge in mobility planning in new developments is how much to push for the shift in mobility habits – find the right balance to support the transition towards sustainable way of moving.

Q: What is in your opinion the role of technology in planning the cities and neighbourhoods of tomorrow? How much we should depend on them and how can we future proof our cities against continuous changes?

TY: Technology is the new democracy for the urban planning. The use of Big Data makes accessible valuable information on people’s movements in a scale and frequency that would be too expensive to conduct with traditional surveys, especially for small-medium cities. The speed with which Big Data could deliver the information makes it easier to assess the efficiency / impact of pilot projects and to adjust them to respond better to the population’s needs. When technologies regard infrastructures and devices, they are not only a tool for observation but they actually influence the way people move. In this context, the key changers are the size of the devices (smaller), the energy they consume (more & more electric), the service type (shared, free-floating, etc.) and the level of autonomy (AV).  As highlighted in the other industries, when it comes to technologies, the evolution has an exponential trend and the prediction is highly variable. To accommodates for the future technologies and make them accessible and integrated in the neighbourhoods of tomorrow, cities should plan for flexibility which means more space for all modes of transport: better balance between soft modes and space for vehicles and better use of current provisions by sharing the existing assets.

Q: Considering the growing concerns over climate change, how important is the role of transport planners to ensure a sustainable and low impact design? what would be the main solutions to encourage the shift towards the non-motorised and sustainable modes of transport in developments and cities?

TY: Literature and global estimates point out that transport is one of the sectors that has the greatest impact on the carbon footprint, thus transport planners have definitely a role to play to help the shift toward sustainable modes of transport at every scale. Encouraging the shift from the individual and private modes to collective and shared modes of moving should be the base principle for new developments and planning cities. The transport planners can influence the paradigm at different levels:

  • Provide alternative mobility solutions competitive to traditional transport modes by implementing new services or new connections. The effort is put on the soft mobility and MAAS network to make the connections among different modes the smoothest possible;

  • Make the trips by private and motorised modes less convenient. This can be achieved with a set of strategies such as reducing the parking availability, introducing slow-speed zones, shared streets and pedestrian areas.

  • Reduce the need to travel (far). The essence of the concept of the 15-min cities held in the fact that cities are planned to have all necessary services at walking /cycling distance creating dynamic neighbourhoods, well served by soft mode infrastructure.

Walkability for Children in Bologna: GIS and Space Syntax Applications

Abstract

The research is based on an extended spatial analysis executed through the application of GIS and Space Syntax, aiming at assessing the level of walkability for children in the City of Bologna (Italy). The research was conducted in collaboration with the Department of Urban Planning of the Municipality of Bologna and the Foundation for Urban Innovations, and take advantage from the study “Proximity services for children: the case of Bologna” which was presented on May 13th, 2021, on occasion of the 6th Edition of Biennale dello Spazio Pubblico (Rome, Italy). The study started from a thematic literature review about walkability assessment criteria and tools, which highlighted that children experience the city differently than adult pedestrians, since they are more vulnerable to road accidents and they need proper infrastructures to freely play outdoors and walk independently. The GIS analysis was based on a series of relevant location-based data and it was focused on evaluating the level of usefulness, comfort, safety, and attractiveness of Bologna for children (aged between 5 to 13 years old). The proposed Walkability for Children Index (WCI) was aimed at identifying the neighbourhoods characterized by the lowest level of pedestrian friendliness in relation to the children’s needs while walking. The Space Syntax analysis was aimed at assessing the level of Spatial Accessibility (SA) of the road network surrounding a Secondary School located in the neighbourhood Navile. The considered area was selected by the Department of Urban Planning for the future implementation of an interim public space by using the tactical urbanism approach. Results helped to identify and characterize a short list of suitable areas where to prioritize interventions, so that land use strategy and transport planning could be better aligned to the child pedestrians movement opportunities in the city.

Introduction

Encouraging the shift towards sustainable urban mobility strategies based on public transport, shared-micro mobility, and active modes of travel such us walking and cycling is one of the main challenges of European cities (Buhrmann, S., Wefering, F., Rupprecht, S., 2019), since they are increasingly facing problems of traffic congestion, road safety, energy dependency, and air pollution linked to the urbanisation global trend (United Nations, 2016). In this context, advanced urban planning activities are shifting towards a focus on walkability (Speck, 2013), namely how friendly the urban environment is for walking, living, visiting, or spending time in public spaces.

The attention to pedestrian mobility started with the principles highlighted by the European Charter of Pedestrian Rights issued by the European Parliament in 1988, that focused on the need to ensure the comfort and safety of all pedestrians in urban areas. Since then, walkability has become even more crucial considering the unprecedented effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on urban mobility.

The recent activity of transport planners and decision makers includes interventions on road networks and transport services (e.g., temporary sidewalk infrastructures, queue management in transit infrastructures, interim public spaces, etc.), to guarantee the possibility to access services within a comfortable walking distance from home (i.e., 15-minute City) (Moreno et al., 2021).

Although traditional approaches about pedestrian mobility tend to focus on the spatial dimension, individual characteristics of pedestrians have a significant impact on the perceived level of  walkability. As highlighted by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by all United Nations Member States (United Nations, 2016) (i.e., SDG 11.2-Sustainable Transport for All), urban mobility should be designed to be more inclusive, with  attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons.

In this framework, the proposed multi-disciplinary approach is aimed at investigating walkability for children in the City of Bologna (Italy) through the application of Geographic Information Systems and Space Syntax. The research was conducted in collaboration with the Department of Urban Planning of the Municipality of Bologna and the Foundation for Urban Innovations.

Thematic Literature Review

Starting from to the General Theory of Walkability proposed by Jeff Speck (2013), a thematic literature review was executed focusing on the most relevant scientific contributions about walkability assessment criteria (e.g., usefulness, comfort, safety, attractiveness) and assessment tools (e.g., GIS analysis, Space Syntax, observations, sensors, apps, audit tools, co-creation approach, etc.). The literature review was conducted through several academic database (e.g., Scopus, Google Scholar, Research Gate, etc.), and then organized in a tabular structure.

Results of the thematic literature review about walkability assessment criteria and tools, with a focus on the needs of child pedestrians.

Despite recent efforts in the design of safe, comfortable, and liveable streets and public spaces for children (Aerts, 2018; Danenberg et al., 2018; Peyton, 2019), there is still a lack of knowledge regarding walkability for children, especially due to the lack of available data. Research about this topic has often been motivated by the necessity to contrasts the social costs of child pedestrian crashes. Compared to adults, children are indeed more vulnerable to road traffic collisions (World Health Organization, 2018) due to poor knowledge of regulations and the complex interaction of psychological and contextual factors.

However, various bodies of research point to the necessity of adopting a more comprehensive child-friendly urban planning approach, considering social facets of public space starting from a broader understanding of walkability. This means understanding opportunities for urban areas to provide comfort and joy as well as safe and inclusive experiences through public spaces, playgrounds, and green areas (Voce, 2018). Walkability for children includes, in fact, opportunities to freely play outdoors, walk independently and safe, and feel a sense of belonging within their neighbourhoods.

Enabling Data and Methodology

The methodological approach which sets the current research is based on the application of GIS and Space Syntax (Hiller, 1996) for the analysis of a series of relevant location-based data, which were retrieved from several open-data repositories. According to the results of the proposed thematic literature review, the considered dataset spans several domains related to the study of walkability for children.

The open data that were retrieved and analyzed through GIS and Space Syntax.

The GIS-based analysis was based on a series of isochrone maps showing lines of travel time by walking to reach each service on a 0-3 scale (considered walking speed of children = 1 meter/sec), which were combined to the calculation of the spatial distribution of each dataset on cells (ce). The analysis was aimed at assessing the level of walkability for children of the entire territory of Bologna (i.e., Macro Scale), as follows:

  • Level of Usefulness Index (LUI);

  • Level of Comfort Index (LCI);

  • Level of Safety Index (LSI);

  • Level of Attractiveness Index (LAI);

  • Walkability for Children Index (WCI).

An example of the proposed cartographic analysis, based on the spatial distribution of each dataset included in the analysis of the Level of Comfort Index (LCI).

DepthmapX analysis was focused on the neighbourhood Navile (i.e., Meso scale). More precisely, it considered a parking area located nearby the Secondary School “Scuola Media Testoni”, which was selected by the Department of Urban Planning for the future implementation of an interim public space by using the tactical urbanism approach. Road network data (Ro) was extracted about a surrounding area of the school, within a catchment area of 900 m (15 minutes walking distance). This was aimed at assessing the level of accessibility of the pedestrian infrastructure surrounding the area of intervention:

  • Angular Integration (AIN);

  • Angular Choice (ACH);

  • Spatial Accessibility (SA).

Results

The proposed GIS-based analysis was applied to produce a cartographic analysis and a series of thematic maps focused on the walkability assessment criteria defined through the presented literature review. Results are visualized considering both the grid and the administrative boundaries of the neighbourhoods and the urban sub-areas of Bologna, with a focus on the neighbourhood Navile. Results helped to identify the cells (ce) characterized by the lowest level of usefulness, comfort, safety, and attractiveness.

Results were further analyzed to calculate the proposed Walkability for Children Index (WCI). In specifics, results helped to identify and characterize a short list of suitable urban areas of the City of Bologna where to prioritize future interventions to enhance the level of walkability for children, as mainly located in the peripheral areas of the city (WCI ≤ 0.214 – 20th percentile).

Results of the Walkability for Children Index of the City of Bologna.

The results of the proposed Segment Analysis helped to identify the streets of the road network (Ro) characterized by the lowest level of integration and betweenness, as follows:

  • Angular Integration (AIN) highlighted the streets characterized by a high level of integration with the system. Integration is indicative to how many people are likely to be in a space, and is thought to correspond to rates of social encounter and retail activities; 

  • Angular Choice (ACH) highlighted the streets characterized by a high level of global choice since located on the shortest paths from all origins to all destinations. Choice is a measure that describes the potentials for each segment element to be selected by pedestrians as the shortest path.

Then, results were further analyzed to calculate the Spatial Accessibility of the considered road network (SA), in order to identify the segments which serve as both a potential destination and route of movement. This measure narrowed the focus on fewer and more significant elements within the system that combine the attributes of being a potentially desired destination and at the same time a desired route for movement. Moreover, this spatial measure defined the type of land use that would fit best in this space, possibly certain land uses would require spaces with a high integration value.

Results of the Spatial Accessibility measure (SA) on land use (La).

Conclusion and Future Work

The research was aimed at investigating walkability for children through the application of Geographic Information Systems and Space Syntax. The results of the proposed Walkability for Children Index (WCI) helped to identify and characterize a short list of suitable urban areas of the City of Bologna where to prioritize future interventions. This could be focused, for example, on innovative design elements for streets and public spaces focused on both the comfort and safety of children, and on differentiated urban planning strategies aimed at guaranteeing the presence of relevant public services within a walkable distance of 15 minutes from place of residence. The results related to the Spatial Accessibility (SA) of the considered road network, can be applied to inform decision maker on the constraints and opportunities of the urban area with regard to the street network and how it can attract or deter child pedestrian movement so that land use strategy is better aligned to the pedestrian movement opportunities.

The area identified by the Municipality of Bologna for the future implementation of an interim public space (as part of the EN-UAC research project EX-TRA “EXperimenting with city streets to TRAnsform urban mobility” – Reference Number: 99950032) will be further investigated through the application of different data collection tools ex-ante and ex-post intervention (i.e., Micro Scale):

  • Onsite observations supported by video cameras, aimed at producing behavioural maps by systematically noting specific pedestrians’ behaviours and movements occurring in the considered area to support the iterative design process (e.g., people counting and tracking, pedestrian flow patterns estimation, etc.);

  • Administration of audit tools and survey questionnaires, to collect useful information about the subjective evaluations of children about the level of walkability of the considered area.

The proposed multi-disciplinary methodology, based on different scales of investigation, tools, criteria, processes, and objectives related to the assessment of the level of walkability for children.

The results of this research work have been presented at the 50th European Transport Conference 2022 (ETC 2022), 7-9 September 2022, Milan (Italy).

Acknowledgments

We thank the Municipality of Bologna and Foundation for Urban Innovations for their fruitful contribution. The analyzed data were treated according to the GDPR-General Data Protection Regulation (EU, 2016/679). This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

References

Aerts, J. (2018). Shaping urbanization for children: A handbook on child-responsive urban planning. UNICEF.

Buhrmann, S., Wefering, F., Rupprecht, S. (2019). Guidelines for developing and implementing a sustainable urban mobility plan – 2nd edition. Rupprecht Consult-Forschung und Beratung GmbH.

Danenberg, R., Doumpa, V., & Karssenberg, H. (2018). The City at Eye Level. STIPO Publishing.

Evans, D., & Norman, P. (2003). Predicting adolescent pedestrians’ road-crossing intentions: An application and extension of the theory of planned behaviour. Health education research, 18(3), 267–277. https://doi.org/10.1093/her/cyf023

Hiller, B. (1996). Cities as movement economies. Urban Design International, 1(1), 41–60. https://doi.org/10.1057/udi.1996.5

Moreno, C., Allam, Z., Chabaud, D., Gall, C., & Pratlong, F. (2021). Introducing the “15-Minute City”: Sustainability, Resilience and Place Identity in Future Post-Pandemic Cities. Smart Cities, 4(1), 93–111. https://doi.org/10.3390/smartcities4010006

Peyton, A. (2019). Designing streets for kids. NACTO-Global Designing Cities Initiative.

Rosenbloom, T., Ben-Eliyahu, A., & Nemrodov, D. (2008). Children’s crossing behavior with an accompanying adult. Safety Science, 46(8), 1248–1254. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssci.2007.07.004

Rothman, L., To, T., Buliung, R., Macarthur, C., & Howard, A. (2014). Influence of social and built environment features on children walking to school: an observational study. Preventive Medicine, 60, 10–15. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2013.12.005

Sisiopiku, V. P., & Akin, D. (2003). Pedestrian behaviors at and perceptions towards various pedestrian facilities: An examination based on observation and survey data. Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 6(4), 249–274. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trf.2003.06.001

Speck, J. (2013). Walkable city: How downtown can save America, one step at a time. Macmillan.

United Nations. (2016). Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. United Nations.

Voce, A. (2018). Cities alive: Designing for urban childhoods. Children, Youth and Environments, 28(2), 78–81. https://doi.org/10.7721/chilyoutenvi.28.2.0078

World Health Organization. (2018). Global status report on road safety. World Health Organization.

Covid-19 pandemic and activity patterns in Milan. Wi-Fi sensors and location-based data

Within the research activities of Transform Transport on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on urban mobility (see the recently published booklet ‘Shifting Paradigm’), this study is focused on the analysis of a large sample of structured proprietary data gathered during a 7-month period (January to July 2020) through a network of 55 Wi-Fi sensors distributed in several department stores, shops and public services in Milan (Italy).

The catchment area surrounding each Wi-Fi AP is based on the radius of action of the Wi-Fi signal (r = 80 m) and on the travel distance allowed within the restricted territories during the lockdown Phase 1 (r = 200 m).

Taking advantage of a preliminary work already presented by Transform Transport, the objective of the analysis is twofold. First, the research aimed at testing the effectiveness and reliability of Wi-Fi technology to collect aggregated data about activity patterns in large scale urban scenarios. In this framework, the number of mobile devices detected per day per hour during the entire period of reference was analyzed to estimate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on activity patterns. In particular, a time series analysis on trends, peak hours and mobility profiles was executed to compare results between the Pre-Covid-19 period (from January 1st to February 22nd, 2020) and the lockdown Phase 0, 1, 2 and 3 (from February 23rd to July 31st, 2020).

Peak hours per hour per day during the Pre-Covid-19 period and the lockdown Phase 0, 1, 2 and 3. Colour palette refers to the percentile frequency distribution of values for the Pre-Covid-19 period.

Second, the research aimed at correlating the number of detected mobile devices (i.e., time-variant data) with the density distribution of relevant land and Public Transport data (i.e., time-invariant data), such as building typologies, green areas, amenities and Public Transport. Given the unprecedented effects of the adopted containment measures on urban dynamics (e.g., restricted mobility, partial opening or closures of public services, etc.), the proposed GIS-based analysis aimed at understanding which areas of the city were more resilient during the evolution of the lockdown phases, considering the variation of Wi-Fi data during the entire period of reference.

An exemplification of the procedure applied to extract the land and Public Transport data on catchment areas.

The results of the analysis were used to define a Suitability Analysis Index (SAI), aiming at identifying the areas of Milan which could be exploited for more extensive data collection campaigns by means of the installation of additional Wi-Fi sensors.

The map shows the results of proposed Suitability Analysis Index, aimed at identifying the areas of Milan which could be suitable for the installation of additional Wi-Fi sensors to collect traffic data.

The results of this research activity has been published in the scientific Journal TeMA: Gorrini, A., Messa, F., Ceccarelli, G. & Choubassi, R. (2021). Covid-19 pandemic and activity patterns in Milan. Wi-Fi sensors and location-based data. TeMA – Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment, 14 (2), 211-226. https://doi.org/10.6093/1970-9870/7886

Abstract

The recent development of location detection systems allows to monitor, understand and predict the activity patterns of the city users. In this framework, the research focuses on the analysis of a sample of aggregated traffic data, based on the number of mobile devices detected through a network of 55 Wi-Fi Access Points in Milan. Data was collected over 7 months (January to July 2020), allowing for a study on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on activity patterns. Data analysis was based on merging: (i) time series analysis of trends, peak hours and mobility profiles; (ii) GIS-based spatial analysis of land data and Public Transport data. Results showed the effectiveness of Wi-Fi location data to monitor and characterize long-term trends about activity patterns in large scale urban scenarios. Results also showed a significant correlation between Wi-Fi data and the density distribution of residential buildings, service and transportation facilities, entertainment, financial amenities, department stores and bike-sharing docking stations. In this context, a Suitability Analysis Index is proposed, aiming at identifying the areas of Milan which could be exploited for more extensive data collection campaigns by means of the installation of additional Wi-Fi sensors. Future work is based on the development of Wi-Fi sensing applications for monitoring mobility data in real time.

SYS Talks Summer 2021.

This summer we’re hosting a series of webinars, called Sys Talks, to engage with other professionals on topics like big data, placemaking, and transportation forecasting. Sign up to learn, and be inspired by our international speakers working in transportation research and analytics, policy making, networking, innovation and more. 

SYS Talks: Travel Demand Modelling (per Livestream)

Transport modelling has always played a decisive role in supporting the decision-making process, providing evidence-based analysis and a robust technical response to planning transportation infrastructure. This recently gained importance as cities and mobility requirements evolved rapidly and the increase of new technologies trigger a shift in transportation modes and cater for people’s changing behaviors and needs. In this session, we question how can transport modelling respond to the rapid changes our cities are going through and how can we take full advantage of the evolving data collection technologies and constantly update and revisit the modelling approaches and techniques? This talk is dedicated to provide some insights on how travel demand modelling is evolving and what modellers, practitioners and researchers will be asked to answer to in the coming years for making the process faster, more effective and more dynamic.

Systematica was joined by Kyle Ward, Senior Data Scientist at Caliper Corporation (for Vince Bernardin, Ph.D., Vice President, Travel Demand Analytics at Caliper Corporation), Leta Huntsinger, PhD, PE, Director of Research, Systems Planning and Analysis at Institute for Transportation Research and Education (ITRE), Luis Willumsen, PhD, Managing Partner at Nommon Solutions and Technologies and Eduardo Espitia, Transport Research Consultant at Systematica srl to talk about projects focused on travel demand modelling.

TRAVEL DEMAND MODELLING: Evolution of travel demand forecasting, new paradigms and technologies

July 20th | Theme: Travel Demand Modeling

Evolution of travel demand forecasting, new paradigms and technologies

Curator: Alessandro Vacca, Systematica

Moderator: Jonelle Hanson, Systematica

Register in advance for this meeting. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Transport modelling has always played a decisive role in supporting the decision-making process, providing evidence-based analysis and a robust technical response to planning transportation infrastructure. This recently gained importance as cities and mobility requirements evolved rapidly and the increase of new technologies trigger a shift in transportation modes and cater for people’s changing behaviors and needs. In this session, we question how can transport modelling respond to the rapid changes our cities are going through and how can we take full advantage of the evolving data collection technologies and constantly update and revisit the modelling approaches and techniques? This talk is dedicated to provide some insights on how travel demand modelling is evolving and what modellers, practitioners and researchers will be asked to answer to in the coming years for making the process faster, more effective and more dynamic.

Guests:

Vince Bernardin, PhD, Vice President, Travel Demand Analytics
Caliper

Dr. Vince Bernardin is a Vice President of Caliper Corporation based in Indiana.  Vince has project experience in twenty-seven states and three continents developing and applying statewide, urban, and corridor-level travel forecasting models for both plan development and major project studies. He has managed and contributed to the development of more statewide models than anyone else.  He is best known for his pioneering work with big data and for his development of innovative modeling approaches.  Dr. Bernardin has been at the forefront of data-driven travel modeling and forecasting using big data for a decade. He was the first to use big data for statewide modeling (2010) and activity-based modeling (2016). He has worked with nearly every major source of big data in transportation, including both aggregate data products (StreetLight, AirSage, HERE) and raw disaggregate (ATRI, Safegraph, Veraset, Cuebiq, INRIX) big data.  He is an active member of TRB, currently serving as Chair of the Urban Big Data Subcommittee and previously serving as Chair of the TRB Planning Applications Conference as well as a member of several standing committees.  Vince holds a BA in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame, and an MS and Ph.D.in Transportation Engineering from Northwestern University.

Leta Huntsinger, PhD, PE, Director of Research, Systems Planning and Analysis
Institute for Transportation Research and Education (ITRE)

Dr. Leta Huntsinger is a 30-year transportation professional with extensive experience in travel modeling, transportation planning, and project management including experience in the public sector, private sector, and academia. She is a core leader within ITRE with responsibilities spanning research, technical services, and training. She is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department for Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering at NC State, and a Professor of Practice in the Department of City and Regional Planning at UNC-Chapel Hill where she engages in her passion for teaching and mentoring. In her time away from work, Leta enjoys running, hiking, biking, and kayaking.

Luis Willumsen, PhD, Managing Partner
Nommon Solutions and Technologies

Dr. Luis Willumsen has over 35 years of experience as a consultant, transport modeller and planner. He is co-author of “Modelling Transport” a book published by Wiley and now in its fourth edition. He has also published “Better Traffic and Revenue Forecasting”, dealing with the critical task of delivering demand and revenue projections for transport concessions. He was a researcher and lecturer at Leeds University and University College London. He was a Board Director of Steer Davies Gleave for 20 years leaving in 2009 to develop his own consultancy: Willumsen Advisory Services. He is also a Managing Partner of Nommon Solutions and Technologies, a company specialised in the use of smartcard and mobile phone data to deliver trip matrices and useful transport insights. Through both companies he has focussed his work on the future impact of new mobility, Agent Based models and how best to deal with deep uncertainty and risk. He is also Visiting Professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering at University College London.

Eduardo Espitia, Transportation Consultant
Systematica

Eduardo Espitia is a transport engineer working with Systematica since 2018. He has been involved in multimodal transport modelling, policy assessment, and demand forecasting at different scales, from masterplans to Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans and National Transport Models.

SYS Talks: Inclusive mobility and public space (per Livestream)

Despite recent efforts towards sustainable mobility in urban scenarios, the measures currently in place to design and manage public transport service and infrastructure do not sufficiently consider the needs of vulnerable city users. As highlighted by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by all United Nations Member States (i.e. SDG 11.2-Sustainable Transport for All), public transport should be designed to be inclusive for women, children, persons with imparied mobility and elderly: “By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons”. In this framework, the talk “User Centered Design in Transport Planning” will introduce a series of Systematica’s research projects based on the application of GIS-based analysis for investigating the women’s needs as users of urban railway infrastructures (H2020 DIAMOND project) and for assessing the level walkability for women (Wher app, TRB ongoing paper), elderly (Shaping Ageing Cities) and children (BISP) in different EU/US cities.

Systematica is talking about these topics with Fabrizio Prati, Associate Director of Design at NACTO (National Association of City Transportation Officials)-GDCI, H. Joon PARK, PhD, Senior Project Manager at New York City Department of TransportationVivian Doumpa, Board Member of Placemaking Europe and Andrea Gorrini, PhD, Transport Research Consultant at Systematica srl.

USER CENTERED DESIGN IN TRANSPORT PLANNING: Inclusive mobility and public space

July 13th | Theme: User Centered Design in Transport Planning

Inclusive mobility and public space

Curator: Andrea Gorrini, Systematica

Moderator: Jonelle Hanson, Systematica

Register in advance for this webinar. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Despite recent efforts towards sustainable mobility in urban scenarios, the measures currently in place to design and manage public transport service and infrastructure do not sufficiently consider the needs of vulnerable city users. As highlighted by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by all United Nations Member States (i.e. SDG 11.2-Sustainable Transport for All), public transport should be designed to be inclusive for women, children, persons with imparied mobility and elderly: “By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons”. In this framework, the talk “User Centered Design in Transport Planning” will introduce a series of Systematica’s research projects based on the application of GIS-based analysis for investigating the women’s needs as users of urban railway infrastructures (H2020 DIAMOND project) and for assessing the level walkability for women (Wher app, TRB ongoing paper), elderly (Shaping Ageing Cities) and children (BISP) in different EU/US cities.

Guests

Fabrizio Prati, Associate Director of Design
NACTO-GDCI

Fabrizio Prati is an urban designer with 10 years of international experience in safe and sustainable urban design, mobility, street and public spaces design. He joined NACTO in 2015 and as the Associate Director of Design he helps oversee projects and activities under the Bloomberg’s Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS) program and the development of new publications. He is one of the authors of the Global Street Design Guide. He graduated from the post-graduate Master of Urban Design at UC Berkeley and previously obtained a Master in City and Regional Planning from the Paris School of Planning. Fabrizio is a city enthusiast and avid urban explorer.

H. Joon Park, PhD, Senior Project Manager
New York City Department of Transportation

H. Joon Park is a senior project manager with approximately 27 years’ experience at Office of Construction Mitigation & Coordination (OCMC), New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT). He is a member of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Committee on Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Computing Applications (AED50) and Traffic Safety Analysis and Policy Group (SIG C4) of the World Conference on Transport Research Society. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Transportation Planning and Engineering from the New York University Tandon School of Engineering. He has been a conference speaker/presenter for various international conferences such as TRB Annual and National Transportation Planning Applications Conference meetings, ITE Technical Conference and District Annual meetings, the International Symposium on Enhancing Highway Performance (ISEHP), the Road Safety on Five Continents (RS5C) conference, the Road Safety & Simulation International Conference, the International Conference on Ambient Systems, Networks and Technologies, the International Symposium on Highway Geometric Design. Before joining NYC DOT, he worked for private consulting companies and was a co-founder and principal software developer at Crossroad Systems, LLC, a software company specializing in transportation data collection/analysis and simulation tool developments using advanced, emerging technologies.

Vivian Doumpa, Board Member
Placemaking Europe

Vivian Doumpa is an Athens-based urban planner and geographer, with a specialization in (creative & inclusive) placemaking. She has international experience on placemaking and citizens’ inclusion and participation in urban planning, especially on matters of public space and neighbourhood revitalization. Throughout her work she integrates aspects of socio-cultural management, non-formal education, community building and systemic change. She is an associate partner for STIPO, a netherlands-based team for urban development, in Greece and board member of Placemaking Europe network. She enjoys working on various scales, from neighbourhood level to strategic and international one, while experimenting with different topics, varying from creative and cultural economy to urban mobility and circular economy.

Andrea Gorrini, PhD, Transport Research Consultant
Systematica

Andrea Gorrini is an environmental psychologist with experience in human behavior in transport systems, pedestrian crowd  dynamics and walkability. Since 2019, he collaborates with Systematica as Transport Research Consultant. He oversees research and development activities related to the identification, collection and exploitation of different mobility data sources through GIS, data analytics, video tracking tools and questionnaires.

Proximity services for children: the case of Bologna

On May 13th, 2021 Systematica joined a roundtable discussion at the 6th Biennale dello Spazio Pubblico – BISP 2021, the biannual event dedicated to research, activities and practices devoted to public space. Since 2011, BISP has been promoted by major Italian institutions in the field of Urban planning and Architecture including INU and CNAPPC in collaboration with several local institutions such as the Order of Architects in Rome, the Roma Tre University and others. The 6th edition “I Bambini e lo Spazio Pubblico” focused on the theme of children, traversing topics from a wide variety of issues focusing on their access and engagement in the public realm of cities. Three Italian cities in particular – Rome, Bologna and Pescara – took up the challenge to evaluate their public spaces from a child user perspective and the responsiveness of these spaces to children’s needs.

In partnership with the Bologna Municipality and Urban Center Bologna (
Foundation for Urban Innovations – FIU), Transform Transport analyzed the city’s supply of proximity services and pedestrian accessibility levels at city scale, adapted to the needs and behaviors of children in the 11-14-year-old age group. In line with the General Theory of Walkability proposed by Speck in 2013, the study focused on the first of four identified precursors to walkability (usefulness, comfort, safety and security and attractiveness), using it as the basis for assessment criteria and methods for the evaluation within the study.

Following this framework, Systematica combined advanced analytical modelling using GIS tools with data supported by the Bologna Municipality database system and open-data sources to study a broad range of proximity services and the potential to reach these services on foot across different neighborhoods in the city. The list of proximity services identified is organized into 8 categories, combined into 4 macro-categories that follow a rights-based approach consistent with the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These services were further classified according to their frequency of use in children’s daily lives, giving higher weight to target users’ daily services such as schools, parks and sports facilities.

The results of the mapping analysis revealed that Bologna performs very well overall in terms of proximity of services with most districts covered by at least 4 of the 8 service categories within a 15-minute walking timeframe. Moreover, despite a more marked difference in walkability levels spatially, the Walkscore analysis showed that 77% of the population of Bologna live in areas characterized by a high walkability index. Services targeting the 11-14 age group are well distributed across the urban area although three neighborhoods can benefit from an enhancement in terms of supply of proximity services for children and walking conditions. A targeted Walkscore analysis for children was carried out considering only the services that are relevant to this age group. Some data indicates that services most relevant to children tend to be located in highly walkable areas. To take one example, superimposing schools in the city with the Walkscore analysis carried out for children reveals that about 90% of schools are already located in highly walkable areas. Levels of access for children must then consider the relative weights of different proximity services to this user group and assess supply and demand patterns according to this priority-based user-centric approach.


In order to deepen the analysis and propose suitable tactical interventions in the city, the research team intends to further investigate the walking conditions at the local scale for neighborhoods identified as low performing areas. The team also plans to investigate other key dimensions besides the utilitarian aspects of walkability (land use, network connectivity, etc.), which include comfort, safety and security and attractiveness. In order to gain a more holistic understanding of urban walkability from the viewpoint of its young users, these factors will be evaluated based on principles of child-friendly urban planning, considering the specific ways by which this particular age group engages with the urban environment and the perceived limits to their independent mobility.

For further information about the project and a complete list of references, please click or download the following report:

The results of this research activity have been published in the Proceedings of the 57th ISOCARP World Planning Congress: Abdelfattah, L., Boni, G., Carnevalini, G., Choubassi, R., Gorrini, A., Messa, F., Presicce, D. (2021). A user-centric approach to the 15-minute city. Examining children’s walkability in Bologna. In: Proceedings of the 57th ISOCARP World Planning Congress 2021 (ISOCARP 2021), 8-11 November 2021, Doha (Qatar), 582-591. Available at: https://dryfta-assets.s3.eu-central-1.amazonaws.com/assets/doha2021/eventdocs/1639387352ProceedingsCompressed.pdf

References

Speck, J. (2013). Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time, Macmillan, New York City.

Moreno, C., Allam, Z., Chabaud, D., Gall, C., Pratlong, F. (2021). Introducing the “15-Minute City”: Sustainability, Resilience and Place Identity in Future Post-Pandemic Cities. Smart Cities, 4, 93–111. https://doi.org/10.3390/smartcities4010006

SYS Talks: The data shall not be standardized (per Livestream)

For planners, big data can be characterized as a steady stream of information that has grown to encapsulate the profession’s foundational skill set. Data has enriched the decision-making process with near real-time information, which has led to questions on how to use data in a manner that ensures the decisions being made represent the best interest of communities. Are we making sense of the data or is data complexity leading to problems that could negatively impact planning decisions? As constituents of data, planners must present information that generates value. For this, we present the theme, the data shall not be standardized.

Systematica is talking with Shawn Turner, Senior Research Engineer at
Texas A&M Transportation Institute, and Andrea Galli, Director of Strategy & Development from Accurat, on how they use data to deliver custom solutions for clients.

Systematica srl is discussing this and more, glimpsing inside the recent publication, US Cities: Shifting Mobility Patterns.

BIG DATA: The data shall not be standardized. Allowing the customer to deliver the data design insights.

July 7th | Theme: Big Data

The data shall not be standardized. Allowing the customer to deliver the data design insights. 

Curator: Jonelle Hanson, Systematica

Moderator: Jonelle Hanson, Systematica

Register in advance for this webinar. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

For planners, big data can be characterized as a steady stream of information that has grown to encapsulate the profession’s foundational skill set. Data has enriched the decision-making process with near real-time information, which has led to questions on how to use data in a manner that ensures the decisions being made represent the best interest of communities. Are we making sense of the data or is data complexity leading to problems that could negatively impact planning decisions? As constituents of data, planners must present information that generates value. For this, we present the theme, the data shall not be standardized.

Guests:

Shawn Turner, P.E, Senior Research Engineer
Texas A&M Transportation Institute

Shawn Turner is a Senior Research Engineer at TTI, where he has developed, conducted, and managed applied research for 30 years. Shawn is a nationally recognized expert with practical experience in multimodal travel data collection and analysis, performance measures and monitoring, and mobility analysis. He has pioneered using private-sector GPS probe traffic data for mobility and reliability performance monitoring. Shawn works with FHWA, state, and local agencies to advance the use of best available and high-quality data in planning, performance management, and traffic monitoring.

In the past decade, Shawn has led or been integrally involved with several national performance monitoring efforts, including FHWA’s National Performance Management Research Dataset (NPMRDS), analytic development, testing, and guidance for the MAP-21 System Performance Measures (PM-3), and FHWA’s Urban Congestion Report. He has also written chapters in several national guidance documents on traffic monitoring for motor vehicles (e.g., AASHTO’s Guidelines for Traffic Data Programs) and for bicyclists and pedestrians (e.g., FHWA’s 2013 Traffic Monitoring Guide). Shawn also has extensive experience in pedestrian and bicyclist data—he leads the efforts to develop, launch, and currently maintain Texas DOT’s Bike and Pedestrian Count Program.

Andrea Galli, Director of Strategy & Development
Accurat

With a strong background in design (Politecnico di Torino) and innovation management (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna), Andrea is the Director of Strategy and development at Accurat and teaches Computational design as Adjunct professor at Politecnico di Milano. Formerly project leader at Carlo Ratti Associati, over the last ten years he has been testing the impact of a data-driven approach to projects bridging between the urban environment and the digital one.

Lamia Abdelfattah, Consultant
Systematica

Lamia Abdelfattah is an urban planner and researcher working with Systematica in the areas of mobility research and communication. She has a background in collaborative urban development and expertise in issues of spatial equity in cities with a particular focus on gender equality. Since joining the team in 2019, she has been involved in diverse projects and publications aimed at delivering sustainable, innovative and equitable tools in the field of urban mobility.

E-scooter accidents and the urban environment: the case of Milan

Abstract

The spread of e-scooters in urban regions as a form of shared micro-mobility or last-mile mobility has been impressive in the last few years. As an example, between December 2019 and September 2020, shared e-scooters have increased, in Italy, from 4900 to 27150 units (according to Osservatorio Nazionale Sharing Mobility). This corresponds to a growth which is equal to 554%, in less than a year and during a global pandemic. This innovative means of transportation has provided advantages considering the possibility to decongest traffic volumes and reduce the emission of pollutants. However, it has also brought the necessity to better design and plan transport infrastructures to reduce the increase in the number of road accidents involving riders of e-scooters with pedestrians, cyclists and drivers of 2-4 wheeled motorized vehicles. In this framework, the current research work was firstly aimed at executing a thematic review of the most relevant scientific contributions present in the literature about the phenomenon, which highlighted the impact of environmental, technical and individual factors on e-scooters accidents. Then, the research was aimed at investigating road safety issues by focusing on the analysis of a location-based dataset related to the e-scooter accidents that occurred in Milan from June 2020 to February 2021. After describing the pattern of e-scooters trips and accidents within the considered time period, an extended GIS-based analysis was executed in order to merge this data with other spatially distributed indicators (taking into account the spatial autocorrelation of the considered variables), as follows: (i) socio-demographic data (such as population and workers density); (ii) land data (such as the distribution of urban fabric ); (iii) and mobility data (such as the diffusion of cycling paths or public transport). The objective of the analysis was to build a Suitability Analysis Index that could identify the most dangerous areas of the city for the occurrence of road accidents involving e-scooters. This was finally aimed at supporting public authorities in the design of safe infrastructures for the users of the service.

Introduction

According to a national regulation promulgated in Italy in the early 2020 e-scooters are currently classified as equivalent to bicycles and, due to this particular aspect, they aren’t subjected to particular regulations (e.g., homologation, vehicle registration, insurance, etc.). These benefits, together with other factors such as incentives offered by the Italian Government for the purchase of them during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, have led to a massive increase in the number of e-scooters circulating in Italian cities, without forgetting the large number of sharing companies that allow renting them to move throughout the city. In addition to this, the electric propulsion system of e-scooters fits very well with the development of policies that are increasingly keen on sustainable mobility. E-scooters are also easier to carry away on public transport and, because of this, they are a quite practical solution to solve what are the most common problems associated with the so-called “last-mile mobility”. This expression is used to indicate all the distances that are too close to drive and too far to walk, remembering that these trips comprise a huge proportion of all the trips usually done by individuals. The massive diffusion of e-scooters, together with some peculiarities that could make this type of vehicle less safe if compared with others (as seen in the literature consulted in this research), has brought with it a not indifferent problem of safety, recalled several times by Milan’s institutions. To give an idea of the phenomenon’s dimensions, we can consider the fact that in the month of September 2020, in the city of Milan (AREU, 2020), one out of five road accidents has involved e-scooters.

In this framework, the research work was firstly aimed at executing a thematic literature review about this phenomenon, which highlighted the impact of environmental, technical and individual factors on e-scooters accidents. Then, an extended GIS-based analysis was aimed at merging a location-based dataset related to the e-scooter accidents that occurred in Milan from June 2020 to February 2021 with a series of socio-demographic, land and mobility data. The objective of the analysis was to build a Suitability Analysis Index that could identify the most dangerous areas of the city for the occurrence of road accidents involving e-scooters.

Literature review

The research was firstly aimed at executing a thematic review of the most relevant scientific contributions present in the literature about the phenomenon (see Table 1), which highlighted the impact of both environmental, technical and individual factors on e-scooters accidents. Literature about e-scooters safety has been concerned mainly with the typology of injuries that occurred to drivers. Many authors have in fact underlined which type of injury is most common between e-scooters riders (Stormann et al. 2020, Mukhtar et al. 2021), together with the description of individual characteristics associated with riders involved in accidents. In fact, young and male people seem to be the categories most involved in e-scooter accidents, and falling from the scooter seems to be the most common reason for injuries, more than a collision with other vehicles (Stormann et al. 2020, English et al., 2020).

When studying the safety of e-scooters riders, other authors have been focused instead on the technical characteristics of the vehicle, trying to understand, on one side, the behavior of e-scooters on the different surfaces of the city, underlining how e-scooter riders experiment more severe vibration events in comparison with bicycle riders, whatever the surface. On the other side, cinematic of e-scooters has been analyzed in details, with the peculiarity of the vehicle being characterized by small-diameter wheels as a rolling element and with the problem, common to other two-wheelers vehicles, of lateral motion related to balancing (Yang et al. 2021, Garcia Vallejo et al. 2020)

Other authors have instead tried to underline the possible relation between e-scooter accidents and the characteristics of urban environments, using GIS analysis in order to understand where the main part of accidents occurs (Zou et al. 2020, Byrnes et al. 2018, Shah et al. 2021). For example, the importance of sidewalks could be seen in Badeau et al. (2019), according to which the majority (44%) of e-scooter injuries occur on sidewalks. Similar results come from Shah et al, which found that most scooter crashes occur on the transition between the sidewalk and the roadway. Another study by Zou et al. (2020) states that e-scooter crashes are concentrated in major employment centers and commercial strips in urban regions analyzed in their study. Parallel results come from the study of Byrnes et al, whose evidence suggests that e-scooters crashes are mainly concentrated in downtown areas of cities or in universities’ ones.

Table 1 Results of the thematic literature review

Enabling Data

Difficulty in finding structured data about e-scooter road accidents was an issue in the first phases of this research. Luckily, for what regards the city of Milan in this case, georeferenced microdata has been collected by AREU Milano (Agenzia Regionale Emergenza Urgenza), an agency that handles the single European Emergency Number and, because of this, records emergency requests following the various types of road accidents, including e-scooter ones. The same problem occurred for road accidents’ data in general, which were obtained thanks to BikeItalia. Data about shared e-scooter density were instead proprietary data recorded by Fluctuo.

On the other side, analyzing the distribution of location-based socio-demographic, land and mobility indicators has been possible mainly accessing the geoportal of the City of Milan (Geoportale Comune di Milano), together with the Open Data site. Another source has been the Copernicus site, useful to analyze the composition of land use.

The list of indicators used in this research is listed in the table below:

Methodology

To assess the relationship between e-scooter accidents and the other indicators, we decided to use as a geographical unit the hexagonal grid proposed by Uber, that is Uber’s H3 grid. The choice of hexagons as a form of space division is justified by Uber saying that  “hexagons were an important choice because people in a city are often in motion, and hexagons minimize the quantization error introduced when users move through a city. Hexagons also allow us to approximate radiuses easily”. So, the idea of using a hexagon as the cell shape is quite significant, simplifying various types of analysis. Starting from the Uber H3 grid, an extensive GIS-based analysis has been implemented in order to calculate the density of each indicator in every hexagonal cell of the grid (see Fig. 1).  Three types of vectors have been included in the analysis: punctual, linear, and areal ones. For the purpose of comparing the various indicators among them, each one has been normalized on a 0-1 scale, creating Z-scores that follow the normal distribution of the values.

Figure 1 Examples of the types of vectors included in this research: punctual (a), linear (b), and areal (c). Density values have been consequently measured with point/km2, km/km2, km2/km2.

The following step has involved the calculation of a series of correlations (using Pearson’s Correlation Coefficient) between the normalized density of e-scooter accidents for each cell, and all the other variables used in this research, including the density of road accidents in general and the density of e scooter trips per cell. Only correlations significant at a 0.01 level have been considered in the analysis. The problem of accounting for autocorrelation of the variables included in this study was then considered by implementing a modified t-test using the function modified.ttest included in R’s packet SpatialPack. This modified t-test of spatial association is derived from the work of Clifford and Richardson (1989) and it is mainly based on the corrections of the sample correlation coefficient between two spatially correlated variables and requires the estimation of an effective sample size. The modified t-test helped to adjust Pearson’s correlation coefficients and the respective p-values, removing the variables whose p-value was no more significant if accounting for autocorrelation.

All the significant correlation coefficients were then included in the calculation of a Suitability Analysis Index (SAI). The index is built upon the idea that all the variables that show a significant correlation with the density of e-scooter accidents could help to locate areas of the city more “suitable” for the occurrence of accidents, in order to set up the first base for the development of future policies.  The methodology behind the construction of the index is quite simple. In fact, SAI Index is essentially a weighted summation of the normalized density values of the variables used in this study, including only the ones that present a significant correlation with the density of e-scooter accidents, without forgetting to account for autocorrelation. The weight assigned to each variable depends on the value of corrected Pearson’s correlation coefficient. To be more precise, if the value of Pearson’s coefficient is quite low (r < 0.3), a weight of 0.05 was assigned to each value of the variable and, if the same coefficient is included between 0.3 and 0.7, a weight of 0.13 was chosen. This has been done so that the sum of the weights could have been equal to 1, considering that no correlation’s coefficient had a high value (r > 0.7).

Results

Starting from 5 June 2020 until 15 February 2021, AREU recorded 275 e-scooter accidents in the city of Milan, with a daily average of 1.08 accidents per day. The month more hit considering only the absolute value of accidents was the month of September, with 62 accidents recorded. If we consider the daily average, in September 2.07 accidents per day were recorded by AREU in the city of Milan. The less “involved” month was January, with 15 accidents recorded and a daily average of 0.48 accidents. This data, represented in the graph below (see Fig. 2), is obviously influenced by moving regulations during the various phases of the Covid-19 pandemic. Because of this, the most interesting aspect is probably the absolute number of accidents recorded, which can give us an idea of the dimensions of the phenomenon. Another interesting aspect is the difference between accidents occurring on the weekends compared with accidents occurring on weekdays. In fact, if accounting only for weekend days, a daily average of 1.01 accidents has been recorded, higher than the same number for weekdays, which is equal to 0.89.

Figure 2 Number of e-scooter accidents per day in Milan (from June, 2020 to February, 2021)

The spatial distribution of e-scooter accidents in the city of Milan is shown in the figures below (see Fig. 3 and Fig.4):

Figure 3 Number of e-scooter accidents per cell (on the left) and number of road accidents per cell (on the right)
Figure 4 Heatmaps of e-scooter accidents (on the left) and of road accidents in general (on the right)

At first glance, the principal hotspot for what regards the spatial distribution of e-scooter accidents is located in the north-east part of the city, with a particular reference to Corso Buenos Aires, one of the principal thoroughfare of the city, in which 14 accidents have occurred (more than 5 % of total crashes).  Not surprisingly, the hexagon cell with the highest number of accidents (which is equal to 5), is a cell crossed by the just quoted road (Corso Buenos Aires), with specific reference to the last part of it, just before becoming “Piazzale Loreto”. There are also two cells with 4 accidents that occurred: one is located in close proximity with “Porta Genova”, while the other is located just outside “Bastioni di Porta Nuova”.

Opposite results can be seen when considering not anymore the density of accidents but the density of e-scooter trips per each cell, as it is possible to observe analyzing Fluctuo data (see Fig. 5). In this case, the average number of trips per cell on weekdays (14.20 e-scooters/cell)  is higher than the same value for what concerns weekend days (13.46 e-scooters/cell). Looking at the map of the density of e-scooters trips has however confirmed the relevance of Corso Buenos Aires as one of the major thoroughfares of the city, with the cell with the highest volume of trips on weekdays (and the third volume on weekends) crossed by the just quoted road. In the latter case, the cell with the highest volume of trips on weekends is located in Cordusio’s zone, in close proximity to Milan’s Dome.

Figure 5 Density of trips per cell on weekends (on the left) and density of trips per cell on weekdays (on the right).

For what concerns the origin-destination matrix of e-scooter trips, unsurprisingly, despite the peculiar nature of dockless e-scooters, cells with the highest number of departures are at the same time cells with the highest number of arrivals (see Fig. 6). This aspect is particularly evident when observing the correlation coefficient between the number of departures and the number of arrivals per cell, which is equal to 0.993. Departures and arrivals of e-scooter trips are distributed in a quite homogeneous manner: in the 383 cells in which Fluctuo has recorded their data, the ones in the first decile of the cells ordered by the number of departures are responsible for only 19.8% of total departures. Similar results can be observed when considering only the number of arrivals: in this case, the same percentage is equal to 21.33%. The cell with the highest number of departures, which is, in this case, the cell with also the highest number of arrivals, is the cell that covers the territory in close proximity to Cordusio’s metropolitan station, opening a series of interesting questions.

Figure 6 The number of e-scooter departures per cell (on the right) and the number of arrivals per cell (on the left).

The second part of the research was based on a correlation analysis between the density of e-scooter accidents and the other variables included in the study (socio-demographic, land and mobility data).Results of correlation analysis initially showed, as represented above and in Table 2 (significance was assessed at the 0.01 level):

Moderate, positive, and significant correlations between the density of e-scooter accidents (ESA_ce) and the density of road accidents in general (RA_ce, r = 0.361), the density of sidewalks surfaces (SS_ce, r = 0.322), the density of road intersections per cell (IN_ce, r = 0.306), the density of neighborhood shops (POI_NS_ce, r = 0.385) and the density of e-scooter trips (ED_ce, r = 0.422);

Weak, positive, and significant correlations between the density of e-scooter accidents (ESA_ce) and the density of population per cell (PD_ce, r = 0.179), the density of workers (WD_ce, r = 0.100), the density of pedestrian areas (PA_ce, r = 0.175), the density of public transport stops (PTS_ce, r = 0.258), the density of bike paths (BPL_ce, r = 0.176), the density of urban fabric (UF_ce, r = 0.273), the density of medium and large commercial activities (POI_CA_ce, r = 0.275) and the density of local street (LS_ce, r = 0.298);

Weak, negative, and non-significant correlations between the density of e-scooter accidents (ESA_ce) and: the density of expressways (EW_ce, r = -0.042) and the density of neighborhood streets (NS_ce, r = -0.042).

These results don’t take into account the autocorrelation of the variables, which was then considered in order to adjust the results. The results of the modified t.test, as can be seen in the table below, led to the exclusion of one variable, the one related to the density of workers (WD_ce), due to his level of significance, which was no more suitable when accounting for autocorrelation.

Table 2 Pearson’s coefficients and relative p-values adjusted for autocorrelation using R’s function modified t-test.

This procedure led us to the construction of the SAI (see Fig. 7), as described in the methodology section.

Figure 7 The spatial distribution of the SAI. Classes are calculated using a quantile distribution.

The map clearly shows a central core for what concerns the cells with a higher value on the Suitability Analysis Index, with only a few exceptions constituted by isolated cells just outside it. Two cases, in particular, show high values (they are both parts of the tenth decile in the distribution of values) combined with a massive distance from the center of the city. One is located in the western part of the city, next to Quartiere Valsesia, a neighborhood almost exclusively characterized by residential land use. The other one is located in the northern part of the city, in close proximity to Affori’s metropolitan station. A similar consideration can be done when considering the cell that crosses the center of Corvetto’s neighborhood, which presents a high value on SAI despite the distance from the center of the city. These considerations underline the importance of considering not only the “suitability” of central areas as potential locations of accidents but also the role of peripheral ones. Quite interesting could be the idea to study in-depth the aspect related to land use in relation to micro-mobility accidents, in order to verify a possible relation (for example), between the prevalence of residential land use (which characterizes some peripheral areas) and the presence of last-mile mobility phenomenons. 

Discussion and conclusions

As mentioned in the introduction of the article, the SAI_Index map has returned an image of the cells more “suitable” for the occurrence of accidents with a clear predominance on the central zones of the city. In fact, when looking at the cells with a high value on the SAI_Index (SAI > 0.97), the pattern is quite evident. A few exceptions can certainly be highlighted (as mentioned before), underlining the importance of rethinking some peripheral zones. Still despite this, the importance of analyzing the geographical distribution of e-scooter accidents can’t be led back only to a center-peripheries scheme, as it was in part clear analyzing the single correlation coefficients. Having a moderate positive correlation between the density of e-scooter accidents and the density of sidewalks, for example, is certainly a quite interesting aspect, which corroborates what found in the literature consulted and which opens some questions about the use of e-scooters by individuals, starting from the fact that driving on sidewalks is forbidden by Italian laws. This aspect should deserve particular attention from policy-makers for the fact that, if e-scooter riders really drive on sidewalks, there is a possible problem of lack of dedicated infrastructures that could guarantee road safety to those who want to drive their e-scooters in urban areas.

Another relationship that deserves attention is the one between the density of e-scooter accidents and the density of road intersections. This relation recalls the importance of underlining the morphology of urban road networks when talking about safety issues, remembering one time more the central role of technical profiles in projecting urban circulation.

Another important aspect, which was quite marginal in this study, is the importance of analyzing the relationship between land use and safety issues. Knowing the reason that leads riders to use e-scooters in their daily lives (that is commuting or leisure, for example) is in fact fundamental to understanding where to intervene in order to avoid circulation problems, with a particular focus on e-scooters. This can be done using as a proxy the huge amount of information available for what concerns land use, whether it is commercial, residential, or industrial, opening a series of interesting research possibilities.

Last but not least, it could be quite interesting to study in deep the relationship between the typology of road and the density of e-scooter accidents, which was omitted in this case due to the presence of not significant results. The road hierarchy used in this study was in fact quite limited and didn’t include the description of some important road characteristics, without forgetting the importance of road surface, another aspect that could lead to explain the relationship assumed in this section. Future research will certainly be more focused on this aspect, so that it will be possible to better understand which typology of road is more problematic for the circulation of e-scooters.


Acknowledgments

The research work has been carried out in collaboration with Davide Tamiozzo and Prof. Matteo Colleoni of the Department of Sociology and Social Research of the University of Milano-Bicocca (Milan, Italy). The authors thank AREU for their fruitful collaboration and for sharing data. The analyzed data were treated according to the General Data Protection Regulation (EU, 2016/679).

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Unveiling Women’s Needs and Expectations as Users of Bike Sharing Services

Within the research activities of the H2020 DIAMOND project, the Use Case ‘Vehicle (Bike) Sharing Fleet Management’ is focused on the investigation of women’s needs and expectations as users of the bike-sharing service managed by Syndicat Mixte Autolib et Velib Métropole (VELIB) in the territory of Paris Region-Petite Couronne (France). This is aimed at supporting the definition of guidelines and policies for the inclusion of women’s needs in the design of future bike-sharing transport services.

In this context, Systematica carried out extensive research based on GIS-Geographic Information Systems for the analysis of Structured Open Data. This was aimed at identifying a short list of suitable bike-sharing docking stations, which were further characterized through: Structured Proprietary Data focused on travel demand; Onsite Observations focused on universal design indicators; UESI Survey Questionnaires focused on women’s concerns, needs and expectations; and Social Media Data from Twitter focused on the opinion of the end-users. Results showed that women use the VELIB’s bike-sharing service much less than men, since they are more concerned about accessibility, safety and security issues, social constraints, weather and topography.

The map shows the total number of bike-sharing docking stations managed by VELIB and the group of twenty heterogeneous and non-adjacent docking stations, which were selected through the proposed GIS-based analysis of Structured Open Data.
The ratio of female users over the overall users’ number of the selected docking stations.
The ratio of female users over the overall users number of the selected docking stations. The background of the map shows the female population ratio of each census sections of the Paris Region-Petite Couronne (France).

The results of this research activity has been published in the Special Issue “Mobility for Sustainable Societies: Challenges and Opportunities” of the scientific Journal Sustainability: Gorrini, A., Choubassi, R., Messa, F., Saleh, W., Ababio-Donkor, A., Leva, M.C., D’Arcy, L., Fabbri, F., Laniado, D., Aragón, P. (2021). Unveiling Women’s Needs and Expectations as Users of Bike Sharing Services: The H2020 DIAMOND Project. Sustainability, 13, 5241. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13095241

Abstract

Within the objectives of the H2020 DIAMOND project, the paper investigates women’s needs and expectations as users of the bike-sharing service managed by Syndicat Mixte Autolib et Velib Métropole in the territory of Paris Region-Petite Couronne (France). The paper presents a thematic literature review focused on gender inclusion in bike-sharing schemes. The proposed methodological approach is based on (i) Geographic Information Systems for the analysis of geolocated open datasets related to land, sociodemographic and mobility characteristics of the areas surrounding each docking stations. This was aimed at identifying a short list of suitable bike-sharing docking stations, which were further characterized through: (ii) structured proprietary data focused on travel demand; (iii) onsite observations focused on universal design indicators; (iv) survey questionnaires focused on women’s concerns, needs and expectations; and (v) social media data from Twitter focused on the opinion of the end-users. Results showed that women use the VELIB’s bike-sharing service much less than men (about 30% of the total number of users), since they are more concerned about the following issues: accessibility (e.g., availability of bikes at the docking stations, distance to the nearest station, type and quality of the cycle paths); safety and security (e.g., perception of danger and insecurity while cycling and using the current bicycle infrastructures); social constraints (e.g., perceptions and cultural stigmatization associated with cycling and bike-sharing); weather and topography (e.g., impact of weather and the urban terrain on cycling and bike-sharing). The final aim of the H2020 DIAMOND project is to support the definition of guidelines and policies for the inclusion of women’s needs in the design of future bike-sharing services.

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Assessing the Level of Accessibility of Railway Public Transport for Women Passengers Using Location-Based Data

Within the objectives of the H2020 DIAMOND project, the Use Case ‘Public Transport Infrastructures – Railway’ is focused on the investigation of women’s needs as users of metro and urban railway public transports. This is aimed at supporting the development of gender-equitable transport planning policies and at increasing the percentage of women using public transport services.

In this context, Systematica carried out extensive research based on GIS-Geographic Information Systems for the analysis of structured open data. This was aimed at identifying a short list of relevant metro and urban railway stations managed by Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC) – the Railway Agency in Catalunya in the Province of Barcelona (Spain).

Example of spatial distribution of urban fabric on the territory of the Province of Barcelona.

A series of open geospatial datasets were selected, sorted and filtered through combining several indicators related to different attributes and characteristics of the land, socio-demographics and mobility of the urban area surrounding each station. To do so, raw data related to the urban scale were extracted in surrounding areas around each station within a catchment area of 400 meter, commonly known to a comfortable walkable distance.

Examples of datasets extraction on catchment areas surrounding each station.

Data were post-processed through density-based calculation of buffer areas, normalization of values and weighted summations. This allowed the identification of a short list of positively and negatively relevant stations based on the level of accessibility for women. The selection was finalized through the analysis of travel demand data provided by FGC, focused on the number of passengers per station per year. Thanks to the collaboration with the Centre Tecnològic de Catalunya (Eurecat), the selected stations were further characterized through additional data collection activities based on social media (namely Twitter) and focused on the opinion of the end-users about the service.

Selected FGC stations and correlation between open data and travel demand data.

The results of this research activity has been published in: Gorrini, A., Choubassi, R., Rezaallah, A., Presicce, D., Boratto, L., Laniado, D., Aragón, P. (2021). Assessing the Level of Accessibility of Railway Public Transport for Women Passengers Using Location-Based Data: The Case of H2020 DIAMOND Project. In: Bisello A., Vettorato D., Haarstad H., Borsboom-van Beurden J. (eds). Smart and Sustainable Planning for Cities and Regions. SSPCR 2019. Green Energy and Technology. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-57332-4_14

Abstract

The chapter presents a data-driven approach based on the use of Geographic Information Systems and data analytics for assessing the level of accessibility for the women passengers of the railway network service managed by FGC—the Railway Agency in Catalunya (Spain). A series of geolocated open and proprietary datasets related to the land and sociodemographic and mobility characteristics of the Province of Barcelona and to the FGC’s railway network has been analyzed and merged with disaggregated social-media data collected from Twitter. This was aimed at maximizing the diversity of station samples that will be observed, in order to ensure that the observed cases are representative of the different situations and locations of any single station. The selected stations are currently under investigation through on-site observations about universal design indicators and survey questionnaires focused on women passengers’ needs and expectations. Within the objectives of the H2020 project DIAMOND, the final aim of the proposed research is to support the definition of guidelines and policies for the inclusion of women’s needs in the design of future urban transport services.

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