A good walk

Most people like wandering around cities. Many factors can affect your walk experience. It is our aim to make your walk more enjoyable and carefree. The main idea is to improve the experience through some kind of service for pedestrians.


We surveyed a group of people about the importance of what influences them while walking in their free time. The founded out:

— green areas and trees along their way;

— amenities, some points of interest;

— landmarks, architecture;

— minimal traffic and other pedestrian;

— wide and smooth sidewalks.

We started thinking how we could help people get around more comfortably. It could be a more detailed map for pedestrians than regular maps. The map could also provide detailed and relevant information about the user’s way. Below is a sketched version of service with dummy data variables and received some feedback.

First version of the project prototype

Then we decided to work on the next version of the prototype but take real data variables about the streets in some area in the center of the city. We picked two areas Yakimanka and Zamoskvorechye districts in Moscow for data collection and research.

We looked into the possible ways of creating the project and decided to use OpenStreetMap as our main database. It’s a perfect way so people can contribute to the project.

Researcher’s toolkit: blank paper map, smartphone, tape measure.

We gathered some data and mapped it on OpenStreetMap and collected some noise reedings. We researched the width of sidewalks, accessibility to venues, underpasses, street noise pollution and interesting places.


Presenting “Walking Streets” independent study of pedestrian conditions research in Moscow, an interactive map tells four stories of pedestrian facilities research. This is an early prototype of one way to improve city conditions. Starting from data collection and analysis. We hope to receive some feedback about the project.

Sidewalks

It is paramount to have a good sidewalk on your way. In the center of the city a lot of historic streets are quite narrow. We found a few small streets where sidewalk are suitable for walking, also we discovered places where sidewalk are narrow and inconvenient. We measured 92 km of sidewalks and created a map of sidewalks. The average sidewalk width is 2.18 meters —which is suitable for walking.

The categories of sidewalks

By clicking on the map you can get sidewalk width and photos from Mapillary showing a nearby place.

Sidewalks width categories map

The next step would be to spread the area of sidewalks research and start gathering surface quality.

Accessibility

For disabled people and parents with strollers it is crucial to know how accessible places are. There a few factors: surface, ramps, steps, venues accessibility. We inspected venues in the researched area and 8 underpasses to check accessibility. The accesibility map shows how accessible venues and underpasses are and which are wheelchair and stroller friendly.

The venues have been marked in three categories:

“Not accessible” —not wheelchair and stroller friendly, there is more than one step on entry (103 venues, 50.7% of all tested venues).

“Limited” — there are one or two small steps, this place not accessible for wheelchairs without assistance, but accessible for strollers(68 venues, 33.5%).

“Accessible” — there are no steps on entrance and venue is accessible for wheelchairs and strollers (32 venues, 15.8%).

Another factor is the steps on underpasses. We inspected steps on underpasses and marked where there is a ramp (“limited”, no wheelchair, only stroller) and where there is a slope easily accessible for wheelchairs and strollers.

This steps are accessible for strollers, but people in wheelchairs would need assistance.

Like sidewalks we posted nearby photos into Mapillary to show accessibility conditions.

Street noise

Some of the surveyed people said that noise levels are important for them. In the urban planning practice noise mapping is a very complex method with a lot of readings needed. We decided to use simpler way to map a set of street noise measurements in place. You can see noise levels on the map of street noise.

Noise levels are shown in four categories:

Blue (lower than 60 dB) which means very good and peaceful place for a walk;

Green (61–70 dB) — quite silent;

Yellow (71–80 dB) —a bit noisy with dense traffic or lot of pedestrians;

Red (more than 80 dB) —a noisy place, uncomfortable for walking and chatting;

Noise measurements collected in Instagram account

We collected the readings using the InstaDecibel app and published them on a special Instagram-account.

Interesting places

A walk is not just about getting from A to B in the shortest time you could make it more vibrant and interesting with the right knowledge. There are a lot of services providing predefined sets of interesting places. We chose another path and matched available wikipedia-articles popularity statistics with coordinates of selected places in the area. You can find articles about places which are most popular on Wikipedia.

Wikipedia articles popularity map

This project is just in the beginning stages and we hope it will take off in near future. Next plan is to spread the area of research and work on a mobile app. All mapped data is open and available for analysis. You can see it on walkstreets.org

We would be highly grateful for any feedback we receive on twitter, facebook or Disqus forum.

The team: Andrey Karmatsky, Philipp Kats, Igor Gakov.

Special thanks: Ilya Zverev and Timofey Samsonov.

About Urbica: Urbica is a design and consultancy firm based in Moscow. We are focused on human experience design around cities. Urbica practice in information design, user interfaces, service design, architecture and environmental planning, data analysis and ethnographic research.