Active transportation policy and practice in the city of Oulu from 1998 to 2016—A mixed methods study
Keywords:physical activity, walking, cycling, built environment, walkability, urban planning, land use
Land use and transportation policies have been recognized globally as major sources of physical inactivity, but there has been a gap between research and policy implementation. Our objective for this research was to produce an integrated view of community planning policies and the association between urban form characteristics and transportation mode choices in the city of Oulu from 1998 to 2016.
Our findings showed that increasing density and diversity of the urban form, emphasizing active transportation, and developing the city center were highlighted in the community and transportation planning policies. In practice, urban form development focused on the inner city, but in the outer urban area and urban fringe, sprawl and car dependency increased. Overall, the active transportation mode share decreased by 2 percentage points during the follow-up, but increases in density, mix and access networks were associated with increased walking and cycling compared to car use.
In conclusion, no consensus was established in Oulu to limit the dominance of private motor vehicles. Decreased active transportation mode share might have been due to inadequately assessed functional mix outside the inner city, increased urban sprawl and building more capacity for cars. In the future, stronger political leadership, increased density, better access to nearby services combined with investments in public transportation will be required to meet the policy goals.
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