Implementing accessibility in municipal planning: planners’ view
Keywords:Accessibility, Older pedestrian, Planning, Policy, Practice, Municipality
Accessibility in public outdoor environments for those with reduced functional capacity has been gaining interest on both the international and national levels. This study investigates how accessibility issues are currently treated in Swedish municipalities in order to examine how older peoples’ accessibility needs are met in daily practice. A postal questionnaire was sent to all municipalities in Sweden (N=290) with questions mainly regarding three categories: (1) existence of policies and planning documents, cooperation with interest organizations, and measures implemented, (2) awareness and use of governmental directives and recommendations relevant for accessibility issues and (3) statements of how accessibility issues are treated among municipal politicians and employees as perceived by the respondent. In the data analysis, a quantitative ranking of each one of the three categories was created using questions from the questionnaire to indicate the level of accessibility implemented in municipal planning. The results show a large variation in the accessibility standard among the municipalities in Sweden. In municipalities that have planning documents, e.g. accessibility plan, accessibility issues are treated more positively among the municipal politicians and employees. This positive relationship with the treatment of accessibility was also found with factors such as municipalities have an accessibility adviser employed, municipalities cooperate with senior organizations, and municipalities use governmental directives and recommendations relevant for accessibility issues. This paper concludes that although there is still much to do to accomplish a society accessible to all citizens, a majority of the Swedish municipalities are nevertheless positive to accessibility issues.
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