Walking to School: The effects of street network configuration and urban design qualities on route selection behaviour of elementary school students

Gorsev Argin, Ayse Ozbil Torun

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

3 Citations (Scopus)
52 Downloads (Pure)


This study examines the association of spatial layout of street networks and urban design qualities of the street environment with path selection by elementary school students. The aim is to better understand the extent to which objectively measured street network configuration and systematically measured urban design qualities are related to pedestrian route choice behaviour. Within this scope, randomly selected 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students (ages 12-14) from 10 elementary schools (30 students per school) in Istanbul, Turkey were asked to draw their routes walking between home and school. The schools were drawn from diverse neighbourhoods that vary substantially in education and walkability (street connectivity patterns). Street network configuration of the entire region was evaluated by using angular segment analysis (integration and choice) implemented in depthmapX as well as two segment-based connectivity measures (metric and directional reach) implemented in GIS. The decision to include different measures is motivated by the variety of configurational qualities (metric, geometric and topological) captured by each measure. 40 street segments along the selected routes for each school (N=400) were characterized through detailed field surveys in terms of five perceptual urban design qualities that are prevalent in urban design literature: imageability, enclosure, human scale, transparency, and complexity. These are measured in terms of the physical features of the street environment including but not limited to buildings, sidewalks, and street items (i.e. trees). Linear models were developed to investigate the relationships among street network configuration, urban design qualities, and route choice behaviour of school students. This study contributes to the literature by offering insights into the comparative roles of street network layout and urban design qualities of the street environment in explaining urban navigation behaviour of children. Preliminary findings imply that notwithstanding the significance of safety attributes, such as the presence of pedestrian crossings and traffic signals as well as the number of vehicular lanes along the selected routes, the overall spatial configuration of urban layouts –both at the local and global level– may prove to be a significant variable for the description and modulation of human spatial behaviour in urban environments. Moreover, results indicate that route selection during targetdirected walking is sensitive to certain aspects of the street environment that relate to more perceptual urban design qualities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 10th International Space Syntax Symposium
PublisherSpace Syntax Laboratory, The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London
ISBN (Print)978-0993342905
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Event10th Space Syntax Symposium - University College London, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 13 Jul 201517 Jul 2015


Conference10th Space Syntax Symposium
Abbreviated titleSSS10
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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