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Evaluating Environmental Quality of Urban Roads through a GIS

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On account of urbanization, cities tend to expand, which leads to the augmentation of existing problems but also to the creation of new ones (Ozturk 1999). One of these is traffic congestion, which is directly linked to the increased use of cars and indirectly to the lack of traffic lanes and bus itineraries. The fact that the commercial areas of a city are an attraction for residents and visitors, dictates the need for safer and convenient moving about in the city streets. There is great building density with little vegetation and free spaces. The high fraction of building height/road width does not allow for enough sunlight; it results in complex eddy movements which cause problems in the surrounding space and for the pedestrians; and has a negative impact on the infusion of smell and the scattering of garbage. The passing of pedestrians is hindered, since the pavements are either considered too narrow or in a poor condition with obstacles along the way. In addition, wheelchair mobility is practically impossible, as there are no special lanes, plus the existing pedestrian areas are intractable. Cycling in the city is a perilous activity for all age groups as there are no cycling lanes. The picture described above is characteristic of a city which needs intervention for the improvement of the living conditions in it.

The use of a completed Geographical Information System is particularly useful when studying the factors which affect the environmental quality of city streets. Through the capacity of a GIS for illustration and combination of different information, multi-layered results may arise. The creation of a database and the data link through maps contribute in attaining results which can constitute a useful tool for government bodies in their decision making. Apart from recording the current condition of the city streets, it is also feasible to continuously update the database with new data for a sustainable observation of the streets quality. The supervision of the current needs becomes difficult by the lack of such a system, which results in partial and fragmentary intervention to problems and questionable efficacy.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2011

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