Applications of Geographic Information Systems in Planning for Pedestrian Trail Bridges in Nepal
Devkota, Bhuwan Bahadur
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Rural accessibility is a pressing issue in many parts of the world. Improved geographical accessibility to basic social service facilities for rural populations is a goal of most governments in developing countries. Development of a trail-based transport system is a key way to improve rural accessibility in mountainous and rugged terrain where trails criss-cross with numerous rivers. The present study focuses on Nepal, a developing country with rural accessibility challenges and a very challenging physical environment. This thesis reviews the existing accessibility patterns in rural areas of Nepal and proposes various approaches for identifying poorly served geographical areas and optimizing of location of additional new trail bridges to provide “best” links to social services. The methodology in this study is based on the concept of the gravity-based spatial interaction and accessibility models. GIS applications are used in different ways, such as in creating, acquiring, integrating spatial and attribute datasets, and spatial analysis and visualization of the output results. Amongst the different types of social services, health care and education centers are considered the most pressing services and hence are the objects of analysis. The main difference between health care service centers and educational facilities is that schools are usually very widespread across the district and serve for the school age population. Health service centers are sparsely and inequitably distributed, however, they serve the whole population at large. The results of the analysis show a fairly clear indication of problems relating to rural transport and access to social service centers in rural Nepal. This is attributed, in part, due to insufficient provision of social service centers and the lack of trail bridges over river crossing locations. The estimated numbers of trips over potential new bridges based on spatial integration modeling provides a basis for prioritization of river crossing locations for allocation of new trail bridges. The poorly served areas across the study district are identified on the basis of the results of the potential accessibility modeling. The trail network nodes with relatively low accessibility values are of prime concern and the subject of contemplation in the trail bridge planning decision-making process.