Planning and designing walkable cities: A smart approach
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Walking may be considered one of the most sustainable and democratic ways of travelling within a city, thus providing benefits not only to pedestrians but also to the urban environment. Besides, walking is also one of the means of transport most likely subjected to factors outside an individual’s control, like social or physical abilities to walk and the presence of comfortable and safe street infrastructures and services. Therefore, improving urban conditions provided to pedestrians has positive impacts on walkability. At the same time technological solutions and innovations have the power to encourage and support people to walk by overcoming immaterial barriers due to a lack of information or boring travel and they give to decision makers the possibility to gain data to understand how and where people travel. Merging these two dimensions into a unique approach can drastically improve accessibility, attractiveness, safety, comfort and security of urban spaces. In this context, this paper aims to draw a more multifaceted context for walkability, where new technologies assume a key role for introducing new approaches to pedestrian paths planning and design and thus for enhancing this mode of transport. Indeed, by combining more traditional spatial-based and perceptual analysis of the urban environment with technological applications and social media exploitation there will be room to better support the decision on and to enhance satisfaction of walking as well as to easier plan and design more walkable cities.