Researchers at TU Dublin and Walk21 International have received funding from the Alstom Foundation to develop a Walkability Auditing App, which will ask women to share their perceptions of walking in Dublin City to help understand its impact on their transport choices.
The project will focus specifically on women that work and live in the vicinity of the LUAS green line extension launched in 2017 to help understand the impact of the environment on their transport mode choices. The application was supported by Dublin City Council, Transport Infrastructure Ireland, the Irish Pedestrian Network and the Sustainable Urban Development Centre in the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, which will all play an active role in the project.
Speaking about the project, Dr Lorraine D'Arcy, Senior Lecturer and Co-Chair of MSc in Sustainable Transport and Mobility at TU Dublin, said, "The information collected by the project will be used to develop a tool that will help people map the deficiencies and positives of walking in Dublin. The Irish government has committed to spending €1m per day on walking and cycling for the duration of their term, and a critical challenge for local authorities is the scarcity of baseline data on user experiences concerning Walkability. This tool, to be made available in January, will provide them with geo-located information of areas that require attention that can be translated into transformative actions, including changes to street infrastructure and the management of the public realm."
Welcoming the funding announcement by the Alstom Foundation, the President of Technological University Dublin, Professor David FitzPatrick, said, "This project has particular significance for students and staff at TU Dublin as it is centred on the Green Luas Cross City line which serves the University's flagship campus at Grangegorman. The Walkability Auditing initiative also aligns with our three strategic pillars - People, Planet and Partnership – involving a partnership with Walk21 International, Dublin City Council, Transport Infrastructure Ireland and the Irish Pedestrian Network to reverse the declining numbers of people in walking in Dublin. As more people choose to forego walking and choose to drive instead, the air quality in the city is affected, while the physical and mental well-being of the population is also impacted by a reduction in physical activity and social interaction.”
Congratulating the project team, Dr Avril Behan, Dean and Director of the College of Engineering and Built Environment, said, "We are delighted to hear of the success of TU Dublin and Walk 21 International in securing funding to develop a Walkability Audit App. Dublin is one of the most walkable capital cities in the world, and this app will serve to help women of all ages to find or rediscover the joy of this most sustainable form of transport.
Continuing Dr Behan, said, “This project complements research and teaching in the area of transport mobility at TU Dublin and demonstrates the University's commitment not only to embedding the UN Sustainable Development Goals within our educational remit but also to contributing to society and safeguarding our environment for future generations. I commend the project team and look forward to the public release of the app shortly."
About TU Dublin and Irish Walking
TU Dublin is working towards hosting the Walk21 International Conference on Walking and Liveable Cities in Autumn 2022. There is an appetite to have Irish Walking and Walkability projects to showcase at the event, and this project has the potential to create a narrative around, and justification for, such projects. The tool will empower community groups such as the Irish Pedestrian Network, Tidy Towns and Scout Troops to collect local data to make a case to their local authorities for investment in local projects. This grassroots drive, alongside the new national policy for investment, has the potential to drive meaning investment to deliver change.
The App project will be building upon an existing Android App using a project funded by Alstom, where Walk21 worked with community partners in Medellin, Colombia, where the target audience was children. The project builds upon the recommendations from the Get Ireland Walking stakeholder forum that TU Dublin hosted last January.
Complementary research is also being undertaken by an MSc in Sustainable Transport and Mobility student from a Civil Engineering background on how best to present the information generated from the app to local authority staff to enhance usability from their perspective.