Older Pedestrians in Brisbane Suburban Settings: Two Case Studies to Investigate the Concept of a "Safe and Attractive" Pedestrian Environment

Bopp, Jennifer (2005) Older Pedestrians in Brisbane Suburban Settings: Two Case Studies to Investigate the Concept of a "Safe and Attractive" Pedestrian Environment. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Older Australians walk for many reasons: health, recreation and transport. However, road safety statistics show that pedestrians over 65 represent one-third of Australia's pedestrian deaths. As Australia's population ages in place and older people take up a walking regime for health and transportation reasons, they need a supportive suburban setting. Urban design theories discuss such "pedestrian-friendly" concepts as sense of place, sense of community, responsive environments, traditional neighbourhood design, transit-oriented development, and crime prevention through environmental design. To investigate these concepts in relation to older pedestrians, this study brings together two areas of literature - research into older pedestrians in relation to urban design theories.

Qualitative research methods were used in two case studies, to reveal how older people's interpretation of their local walking environment relates to urban design theories concerning walkable suburbs. The two Brisbane suburbs of Bulimba and Forest Lake were chosen for study, as they have different histories, topographies, street patterns, and other variations. Analysis of key themes gathered from two focus group discussions, one from each suburb, revealed the significance for participants of social interaction when walking for health. A photographic exercise performed by the Forest Lake focus group provided pictorial information for analysis, and revealed participants' interest in the lake's fauna and flora, and in its ongoing maintenance. The study was limited by an unforeseen failure to obtain the cooperation of the Bulimba group in the photographic exercise.

In support of the claims made in the literature review, it seems that when older pedestrians walk through suburban streets, they avoid steep hills, busy roads, and intersections where possible, and require footpaths with even surfaces and shelters. When walking for health reasons, participants in this study did not favour local streets, but preferred "natural" places designed exclusively for walkers. Forest Lake participants stated a preference for driving to places they deemed suitable for walking, which suggests a need for more detailed design attention to the urban design qualities of local streets, so that those older people without cars are not disadvantaged.

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ID Code: 16144
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: O'Hare, Daniel & Zlobicki, Malgorzata
Keywords: Road safety and older pedestrians, Urban design theories and older pedestrians, Sense of place and community, Master planned communities, Walkability, Walking for health, transport, and recreation, Older people and car-dependency, Pedestrian-friendly safe suburbs
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Department: Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Jennifer Bopp
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 03:57
Last Modified: 25 Jun 2017 14:39

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