A user-centric approach to the 15-minute city: examining children’s walkability in Bologna

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Submission Summary
According to the World Health Organization (2020), 80% of adolescent children in cities worldwide have insufficient physical activity levels. Studies from the UK and Europe show that children’s walking trips have dropped by a significant margin in recent decades. Active Commuting to and from School (ACS), which is one of the main ways for children to meet their recommended daily physical activity levels, is also in decline (Shaw et al., 2013). These trends correspond to various interrelated socio-economic and environmental factors that involve cultural expectations as well as preparedness of the urban environment to meet children’s needs. One of the most direct and axiomatic factors affecting children’s urban walkability is their proximity to daily services and their ability to reach important destinations on foot. This study employs two theoretical concepts as a basis for service proximity across the urban territory: the usefulness of the urban realm as defined in Jeff Speck’s (2013) General Theory of Walkability and the chrono-centric ‘15-minute city’ concept as proposed by Carlos Moreno et al. (2021). These two concepts are seen as complementary and support cross-validation of the mapping results of the study carried out at city scale. Produced as a result of research in partnership between Systematica Srl, the Bologna Municipality and Fondazione Innovazione Urbana and presented at the 6th edition of the Biennale Spazio Pubblico 2021, this study adopts a user-targeted approach to the 15-minute city that focuses on the mobility of middle-school age children (11-14 years) in the city of Bologna, Italy. The goal of the study is to analyze the distribution of the city’s supply of daily services relevant to children of this age group and the corresponding potential to reach these services on foot. The methodological approach combines advanced analytical modelling using GIS tools with data supported by the Bologna Municipality database system and open-data sources to analyze the proximity of 8 essential service categories, sub-categorized and weighted according to their significance to the target users. The mapping analysis revealed that Bologna performs fairly well in terms of overall proximity of services with most districts covered by at least half of the 8 service categories within a 15-minute walking timeframe. The walkability analysis using Walk Score 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 also well distributed across the urban area. Only three neighbourhoods were identified as potential areas of intervention. Preliminary analysis of the mapped data also indicates that 90% of schools - a key destination for this age group - are already located in highly walkable areas. Ensuring walkable distances to primary needs is the first step to enhancing adolescent children’s physical activity levels and supporting their right to independent mobility within the city. From a methodological perspective, this practical application aims to shed light on the importance of adopting a user-centric approach when evaluating accessibility in cities using a methodology that can be applied to other social groups and urban contexts. References 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 2021, 4, 93–111. Doi: 10.3390/smartcities4010006 Speck, J. (2013). Walkable city: How downtown can save America, one step at a time. New York: Macmillan. Shaw, B., Fagan-Watson, B., Frauendienst, B., Redecker, A., Jones, T., Hillmann, M. (2013). Children’s independent mobility: a comparative study in England and Germany (1971-2010). World Health Organization (2020). Fact Sheet: Physical Activity. WHO. Available at: who.int
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ISO338
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2: Well-being and health. Al-Fereej: caring for living conditions
Partner and Managing Director
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Systematica srl
Systematica srl
Systematica srl
Systematica srl
Systematica srl
Systematica srl
Systematica srl

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