Improving the accessibility – senior friendly walking routes in Odense

The City of Odense has worked with accessibility for several years and it is a goal to create a continuous and uncomplicated traffic system for all users. Among other things, this means that traffic areas and squares are planned and implemented with a view to improve accessibility as much as possible.

In 2008, it was decided to make an accessibility plan for the City of Odense with the purpose of improving the accessibility in the inner city.

Here accessibility means that public areas, squares, paths are accessible for everybody including people with mobility problems such as people in a wheelchair, parents with a pram, people with walking frames or people who are visually handicapped etc.

The City of Odense and Rambøll Nyvig are the key partners and it has taken approx. one year to make the accessibility plan.

Background & Objectives

Problem to solve
A study in 2008 showed that the number of older people in the inner city has decreased considerable since 1998. Furthermore, people with mobility problems often experience that it is difficult to more around in some parts of the inner city due to barriers such as high kerbs, uneven surface etc.

Objective of the activity
Overall, the activity aims at improving the accessibility in the city centre.

In 2007 Odense adopted two new policies relating to older people and mobility: A health policy and a policy for the lives of senior citizens. Both policies emphasises the importance of accessibility. In this way, the accessibility plan helps to reach the objectivities enacted in these policies.

Target group
No specific target group was defined, since people in all ages can experience problems with accessibility. However, a special focus has been at older people and people with mobility problems such as people in wheelchairs and persons who are visually handicapped.

Implementation

A main focus was on participation when making the accessibility plan. Thus, two workshops with citizens were carried out. At the first workshop people were asked to point out places where the accessibility is poor and to write a short comment on the problems they had identified. They worked in small groups and made use of city maps.

Based on this workshop the City of Odense and Rambøll Nyvig prepared two walking routes through the inner city connecting most of the identified places in addition to important places like the main station, a pedestrian area, doctors and dentists, shops, public offices and green areas. Afterwards, every obstacle on the two walking routes and possible solutions were identified.

At the second workshop, the two walking routes and their problems and potential solutions were presented and discussed with the participants.    

The participants were invited the two workshops through articles in the local newspaper and direct invitations to different organisations representing older people and handicapped people.

At the moment the City of Odense is in the process of carrying out the physical interventions and when they are finished, the participants of the two workshops will be invited to have a walk along the routes to access the improvements.

The two workshops are funded by the AENEAS project while the accessibility plan and physical interventions are funded by the City of Odense.

Conclusions

Overall, it is important to include the accessibility aspect in the initial planning phase and continue to work with accessibility when implementing a project. That is to say, it is important that employees at a municipality have knowledge about accessibility.  

The accessibility plan for the City of Odense cannot be directly transfer to other cities, since the point of departure is the infrastructure in Odense. However, other cities can benefit from the lessons learned in Odense.

Contact Person
Mrs. Dorthe Gyldenlund Råby
Firm: City of Odense
Address: Nørregade 36-38, 5000 - Odense C, Denmark
Phone: +45 6551 2750

The AENEAS project is supported by:
Inteligent Energy
The sole responsibility for the content of this case study lies with the authors.
It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Communities.
The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.