Introduction to Part 1

Part 1 of this report summarises the experience of evaluating accessibility in the UK and around the world. It identifies the key points to incorporating accessibility assessment into New Zealand policy and practice.

Drawing on knowledge from countries with experience in accessibility analysis and planning such as the UK, Germany and The Netherlands has revealed a close relationship between an integrated approach to governance and successful integration of accessibility assessments. National policy and top-down governance on accessibility need to aid the development of local schemes and organisations enabling delivery of accessibility improvements.

Although many countries have well-defined policies on accessibility, it is still a growing area of expertise. Accessibility goals have long been stated, and measuring techniques help to define the connections needed for people to access places and opportunities. As each country seeks more integrated approaches to transport management and delivery, methods for evaluating accessibility are developing to support the accessibility policy aims.

Most countries with well-defined national policies on accessibility provide details of accessibility planning requirements for local authorities. In some countries, eg Germany, national government uses accessibility indicators from national analysis to help direct national resources to local authorities with greater accessibility needs. Other countries quantify national targets and goals, such as those in The Netherlands, to encourage transport intensive development in accessible locations. In all countries with well-developed accessibility policies, the national government analyses accessibility change over time. This is because without clear measuring techniques accessibility goals are unclear. Therefore accessibility measures can be used to identify clear goals that relate to wider social and economic aims within national policy.

Accessibility aims are implicit in current New Zealand national policies but these aims are often expressed in terms of connectivity and travel demand. Connectivity and accessibility are two ways of looking at the same challenge, and accessibility is a practical way to define what connectivity means and how it can be analysed and measured. The purpose of making connections through accessibility planning is to ensure the benefits of transport change for people and businesses are explicit. Sometimes the focus on people is most important at a neighbourhood level for access to essential local facilities but there can also be accessibility goals nationally or internationally to ensure specific business sectors have good accessibility to specific markets or resources. Policy development and practical modelling approaches must develop together.

The New Zealand Transport Strategy (MoT 2008)[3] is the longest horizon planning document for transport in New Zealand. Accessibility modelling is likely to be a very helpful tool to achieve New Zealand’s Land Transport Management Act 2003 purpose ‘to contribute to the aim of achieving an affordable, integrated, safe, responsive, and sustainable land transport system’ or, the Land Transport Management Bill’s (introduced 13 August 2012) amended purpose ‘to contribute to an effective, efficient and safe land transport system that supports the public interest’.

To assist the development of an accessibility modelling methodology, existing transport models in New Zealand can be modified and functionality from accessibility models elsewhere in the world can be transferred to a New Zealand situation. This report explains how by building from best practice to make optimal use of the data available in New Zealand, a bespoke accessibility analysis tool can be developed tailored to the available data and accessibility planning needs in New Zealand.