Walking is healthy, strengthens social contacts and is a prerequisite for everyone´s mobility: every change in location starts and ends with walking. However, the share of the walking mode within the Austrian citizens shows a decreasing tendency according to the study "Österreich unterwegs". On the one hand, people are changing their mobility behaviours towards other modes of transport. On the other hand, the decreasing number of foot trips is the result of insufficient statistical recording of walking in mobility surveys.
The overall goal of the project Walk&Feel is to improve the conditions for pedestrians in order to increase the quality of life in urban areas. Thus, it is absolutely vital to collect comprehensive and high-quality data as a basis for an accurate evaluation of the quality of walking conditions (walkability). Advancing technologies like wearable sensors enable us to record and map changing physiological reactions of pedestrians in specific situations. Based on these human reactions, individual perceptions and emotions in designated areas can be identified. By merging objective measuring methods and subjective records of observations, conclusions on the triggers of the reaction can be drawn. By relating the triggered human reaction to the specific urban location, indicators for evaluating the walkability can be derived.
The main innovation of this research project consists of collecting human physiologic data on subjective location-based perceptions and of merging different data sources in order to gain information about the quality of walking conditions in urban road space. We expect Walk&Feel to deliver four main outcomes: Firstly, methods and technologies for sensor-based measurements of perceptions and emotions of pedestrians are developed. Secondly, the collected data is merged, checked, analysed and visualized. Thirdly, a methodology to derive the triggers of human physiologic reactions of pedestrians is developed in order to draw conclusions on the walkability of the urban road space. With the aim to ensure applicability, a field study with sixty test persons is going take place in Vienna, in the city of Salzburg and in a suburban municipality. The collected data is the basis for assessing the walkability in these test areas. Evaluating the feasibility as well as effort and benefit of the developed methods and giving recommendations for further applications in planning, participation or technical development (e.g. pedestrian routing) is the fourth intended result of Walk&Feel.