An investigation of school walkability in different neighborhood contexts in Ankara with the proposed GIS tool

Reyhan, Simge
Children walking to school contributes to the daily required physical activity recommended by health guidelines and makes them less prone to obesity and mental health problems. Urban form characteristics such as distance, density, diversity that have the potential to encourage children to walk to school are essential for the public health and livability of cities. The main aim of this study is to analyze and compare the school walkability in the different neighborhoods to understand the role of neighborhood design in children’s walking behavior. Three neighborhoods were selected from Ankara: Bahçelievler (traditional neighborhoods with garden apartment houses), İşçi Blokları (mixed-use neighborhoods of 1970s with low- and high-rise apartments) and Kuzeykent neighborhoods (contemporary high-rise mass housing developments), all of which represent different urban form characteristics. The study proposes a new model based on Geographic Information System (GIS) to measure school site walkability for decision makers to perform urban computations more accurately and easily. School walkability toolbox is created with the Model Builder tool of ArcMap Software. The toolbox contains following models: pedshed ratio, building density, land use mix (based on ground floor and based on building), traffic exposure, NDVI based greenness score. Building data (includes floor number and land use), road data (includes road width), and Sentinel 2 data (Band4 and Band8) are collected and prepared as inputs of the toolbox to measure school walkability. The output of each model in the prepared toolbox is the result of the measurement equation. Results show that Bahçelievler neighborhood encourages children to walk to school more compared to İşçi Blokları and Kuzeykent neighborhoods, respectively. In terms of parameters, while the highest values varied between İşçi Blokları and Bahçelievler neighborhoods, Kuzeykent neighborhood has shown the lowest performance in all parameters except building density. Results argue that over the years, because of the urbanization policies, compared to children living in the pre-1990s of Ankara (where one could see mixed-use neighborhoods with both low- and high-rise apartment buildings), today’s children are more likely to live in neighborhoods that less support school walkability in Ankara. The study highlights the importance of planning decisions on school sites to encourage children’s walking to school. This understanding may help urban planners to create more healthy and livable neighborhood environments for children.


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Citation Formats
S. Reyhan, “An investigation of school walkability in different neighborhood contexts in Ankara with the proposed GIS tool,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2022.