Walkable city and universal design in theory and practice in Poland

Dagmara Kociuba, Małgorzata Maj

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/30838


Understanding the city as a whole, its functioning, and needs of its inhabitants is currently becoming an important issue. Solutions introduced in cities based on the principles of the concept of walkable city and universal design are becoming more and more popular around the globe. Both topics have been so far discussed separately, although due to the requirements of social life and introduction of new legal regulations, they should be analysed together. The objective of the paper is to examine the impact of the design concepts of walkable city and universal design on the practical aspects of life of people with disabilities in selected cities, with particular consideration of obstacles existing in public spaces. The main contribution of this study is twofold. In the theoretical aspect, a synthetic index was developed based on the ‘Ten Steps of Walkability’ (Speck, 2012). In practical terms, it was analysed both from the spatial (field inventory) and social (in-depth interviews with experts and a questionnaire survey) perspective. As a result, a mental map was developed, presenting obstacles and barriers in public spaces and in buildings relevant for people with and without disabilities (hearing, movement, and visual impairments). The results can be used for universal design worldwide to eliminate obstacles and barriers encountered by pedestrians.


walkable city, universal design, accessibility, persons with disabilities, barriers and obstacles, urban planning, Poland

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