Social inequalities in urban access. Better ways of assessing transport improvements

Abstract : In the field of transport studies, research on urban access generally deals with this notion in a narrow sense. Most of the time the issue of access is analyzed in terms of transportation network performance, using economic models that were designed to assess infrastructure efficiency. In this paper we argue that the social characteristics of space and of individuals, along with the provision of urban amenities in a given urban environment, are also essential elements in the complex notion of urban access. Therefore, urban access should be analyzed not only in terms of transportation networks but also from the perspective of spaces and individuals. We begin with a review of studies measuring urban access through accessibility in the field of transport studies, without restricting our analysis to transportation networks and transport policies. By rejecting a narrow definition of urban access, we seek to broaden thinking on measuring social access inequalities and their implications for public policy. We will then examine policies implemented to improve accessibility, focusing on those policies that emphasize the social dimension of urban access, and offering a critical review of the models and indicators used to assess transportation investments and policies. Finally, we will suggest some possible explanations for the lack of emphasis on social accessibility and offer suggestions to help overcome current difficulties.
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Sylvie Fol, Caroline Gallez. Social inequalities in urban access. Better ways of assessing transport improvements. Elliott D. Sclar, Mans Lönnroth & Christian Wolmar. Urban Access for the 21st Century. Finance and governance models for transport infrastructure, Routledge, pp.46-86, 2014, 978-0-415-72047-2. ⟨halshs-00961013⟩

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