De Montis, Andrea and Reggiani, Aura (2013) Cities special section on “Analysis and planning of urban settlements: the role of accessibility". Cities, Vol. 30 , p. 1-3. eISSN 1873-6084. Article.
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Accessibility has been the focus of many studies in recent decades. The widespread adoption of the accessibility concept demonstrates the originality of Hansen’s (1959) and Weibull’s (1976) vision. They were the first to define accessibility systematically. In essence, these two authors interpreted and modeled accessibility as the potential opportunities which can be reached from a given place by paying a certain generalized and space/time based cost.
It is worth saying that the vast number of authors that have so far adopted – and still adopt potential accessibility is the best proof of the efficacy and elegance of this approach. Many review studies
emphasize the relevance of this definition of accessibility from both the theoretical and empirical viewpoint (see inter alia Baradaran & Ramjerdi, 2001; De Montis & Reggiani, in press; Geurs, Krizek, & Reggiani, 2012; Geurs & Wee, 2004; Handy & Niemeier,
1997; Jones, 1981; Reggiani & Martín, 2011; and Wu & Hine, 2003).
Thus accessibility appears to be a useful tool for best practice and planning (Geurs et al., 2012). In this context, a line of research is clearly devoted to the accessibility of urban systems. There is interesting specialization in the scientific literature on accessibility
in an urban setting. Lau and Chiu (2004) study the influences of land-use policy and public transport system development on their accessibility to workers. Many investigations relate accessibility to the following urban public goods: public spaces (Lotfi & Koohsari, 2009; Pasaogullari & Doratli, 2004), opportunities of access to space and time for one or multiple persons (Neutens, Versichele, & Schwanen, 2010), metro systems (Prasertsubpakij & Nitivattananon, in press), labor markets (Reggiani, Bucci, Russo, Haas, &
Nijkamp, 2011), streets (Travençolo & Costa, 2008), services (Vasconcelos & Farias, 2012), and green spaces (Wright Wendel, Zarger, & Mihelcic, 2012).
Starting from the above considerations, reflections on the role of accessibility in the analysis and planning of urban settlements certainly remain valid arguments that are worth exploring. This is the rationale which characterizes the articles included in this Special Section. To be more precise, Caschili and De Montis (2013) analyze
accessibility in the US commuter system; Monzón, Ortega, and
López (2013) analyse accessibility in terms of the impact of the Spanish high speed rail system on urban areas; Ratner and Goetz (2013) study the accessibility of transit-oriented development, as well as its impact on urban morphology and land use; Bentlage, Lüthi, and Thierstein (2013) consider the accessibility of German
agglomerations with respect to physical and non-physical connectivity; and, finally, Tranos, Reggiani, and Nijkamp (2013) construct an index of digital accessibility to European cities. These contributions have been originally selected from among the papers presented in a ERSA-NECTAR1 Special Session on Accessibility and Spatial Patterns organized by Andrea De Montis and Aura Reggiani
under the aegis of the ERSA 50th Conference held in Jønkøping (Sweden) on 19–23 August, 2010.
Table 1 can be used to link the five articles collected in this Special Section. In detail, in Table 1, the papers collected in this Special Section are classified according to the following main features:
1. Transportation system indicates to which transportation context the authors are referring.
2. Country elucidates the national context under analysis.
3. Socio-economic variable refers to the categories of people that are analyzed in their mobility/accessibility choices.
4. Spatial context explains the level of spatial organization of the data.
5. Time period reports the time span when the data were collected.
6. Methodology indicates the analytical tool(s) adopted for constructing the accessibility measures.
7. Accessibility measurements/proxy reports on the measurements used to calculate the level of accessibility.
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