Comparing the perception with the reality of walking in a hilly environment: an accessibility method applied to a University campus in Hong Kong

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Guibo Sun
Robert Haining
Hui Lin *
Nicolas M. Oreskovic
Jie He
(*) Corresponding Author:
Hui Lin |


The influence of hilliness on walking behavior could be a consequence of the real effect of the local topography, but individual perception of the difficulties associated with walking in a hilly environment may also be important. Previous studies have found that people’s perceptions do not necessarily match well with the realities of walking in hilly environments. There are a few methods that can be used to visualize the geography of that difference for use by urban planners and public health practitioners. A walking accessibility measure that allows comparison of perception and reality is proposed and implemented in this study. We note that difficulties in calculating accessibility measures in the present context arise primarily from problems with data quality, three-dimensional pedestrian network modelling and the adequacy of accessibility methods for describing and predicting walking behavior. We present practical strategies for addressing these issues using geographic information systems. Our method is illustrated by calculating accessibility for a hilly university campus in Hong Kong. Walking behaviors on, and people’s perceptions of, this hilly environment were obtained through walking diaries and a survey. The article concludes with suggested directions for the future development of walking accessibility measures along with some ideas about their applicability to the practice of planning and designing a walkable environment.

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