EVALUATING SIDEWALK INFRASTRUCTURE & PRIORITIZING INVESTMENT
Wes Marshall with Nick Coppola, University of Colorado Denver
This project leverages advances in technology and increasing access to high-resolution remote sensing and spatial data to develop methods for inventorying sidewalk characteristics and static obstructions across an entire major city. In part 1 of this effort, we analyze city-scale sidewalk availability, width, and land coverage calculated from spatial data from aerial imagery (planimetrics). We then determine how much of a difference accounting for static obstructions makes when measuring the clear width of sidewalks in one city. Part 2 then combines planimetric sidewalk data with vehicle and pedestrian trip big data to develop a methodology to prioritize city areas in need of pedestrian infrastructure attention.
The results show an overall deficiency of sidewalks and indicate that deriving sidewalk availability, average width, and minimum clear width are feasible at the city scale. Moreover, the results suggest a significant decrease in the average clear width of sidewalks when accounting for static obstructions. Not accounting for static obstructions could lead to a gross overestimation of seemingly adequate sidewalks and an unrealistic assessment of sidewalk infrastructure and pedestrian accessibility. We then present a feasible and efficient method to prioritize pedestrian infrastructure in a city.
Primarily due to a lack of data, academic literature has scant research on sidewalks. In this project, we leveraged advances in remote sensing to bridge the data and research gap on pedestrian infrastructure in cities. These results will help cities that are lacking information rectify an unprecedented backlog of deteriorating pedestrian infrastructure.
About the Speaker
Wes Marshall is a Professor of Civil Engineering and affiliate faculty in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Colorado Denver, director of the CU Denver Transportation Research Center, and co-director of the Active Communities/Transportation (ACT) research group. He is a Professional Engineer and focuses on transportation teaching and research dedicated to creating a more sustainable and resilient built environment, particularly in terms of road safety, active transportation, and transit. Other related teaching and research topics include street networks, parking, health, travel behavior, and scofflaw bicycling. His recent book, Elements of Access, provides planners with the fundamentals of transportation engineering and engineers with the fundamentals of transportation planning. Having spent time in the private sector with Sasaki Associates and Clough, Harbour and Associates, Wes has been working on all this for the last two decades. A native of Massachusetts, he is a graduate of the University of Virginia, the University of Connecticut, a recipient of the Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship, the Endeavour Fellowship, winner of the Wootan Award for Outstanding TRB Paper in the field of Policy and Organization, and winner of the Campus-wide University of Colorado Denver Outstanding Faculty in Research Award.