Using Social Topography to Understand the Active Mobility Networks (AMNs) of People with Disabilities (PWDs)
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This study explores the physical features in the urban setting that give rise to inequitable outcomes for people with disabilities (PWDs), in particular, those with mobility impairments. The objective is to identify the dynamic elements of local active mobility networks that act as barriers to PWDs. A review of the principles and metrics of contemporary urban and transportation planning theory and practice is undertaken. This is contrasted against studies that define the heterogeneous needs and preferences of the disabled population. From this, a new framework is introduced - social topography. This model visualizes the community as a network of opportunities embedded into the physical and socio-economic fabric of the community. It is used as a tool for assessing active mobility networks of three neighbourhoods centered on transportation hubs in southern British Columbia, Canada. The audits reveal that accessibility is a complex and dynamic concept that should inform urban and transportation planning policy and practice. The nuances of absolute and relative access challenges are revealed when the social topography framework is applied. In order to reduce the inequitable outcomes that exist, urban and transportation planning will need to reconsider the underlying principles implicitly and explicitly employed as well as the measures and tools deployed. In the end, individuals and communities will benefit from this more inclusive urban planning paradigm.