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Accessibility planning doesn’t need modelling software

Derek Halden, DHC, Edinburgh EH4
17 April 2014

It was good to see some coverage of new accessibility modelling software but peppering the article with references to “accessibility planning software” is very misleading (‘Thinking bigger... and smaller... in the world of accessibility planning’ LTT 4 Apr). 

In most practical accessibility planning no analysis software is needed. Accessibility planning checks that the needs of travellers are being met and organises action to tackle gaps. 

Opening up access to data has been important, and the data now freely available has derived partly from campaigns by accessibility planners to open up information about travel opportunities. The DfT has also supported efforts to make more data available, including publishing travel time statistics across England to help planners avoid needing to do any of their own modelling.

Each analysis task needs thought to ensure that it is relevant to the planning problem being considered. At DHC we have contributed to the preparation of the national accessibility statistics over the last decade without the use of any commercially available accessibility modelling software. Many other organisations also find that transport models linked with GIS are better ways to measure and forecast accessibility than any more specific software.

It is great to see the new TRACC software, and I am sure it will be widely appreciated across the profession as a new addition to the toolkit, but we should not oversell the role of modelling in accessibility planning.

Some of the best current accessibility analysis is undertaken by children in the school classroom drawing their safe routes to school and working out practical ways to plan improvements.


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