SECTION 1: Introduction to urban accessibility

The purpose of this section is: i) to present the concept of urban accessibility, clarifying the difference between accessibility and mobility; and ii) to present an overview of the main indicators used to measure accessibility levels.

How many jobs can a person in a given location reach within an hour of travel using public transport? How long does it take for this person to get to the health center or the school closest to her home? The answers to these questions directly depend on local transport and urban development policies. These policies determine the urban accessibility conditions in each city - that is, the ease with which individuals can access opportunities such as employment, health and education services, cultural and leisure activities, among other types of activities. Accessibility, therefore, is simultaneously a result of the connectivity and performance of transport systems and the organization of cities in terms of the spatial distribution of their population, economic activities, and public services. Moving to accessibility-focused transport planning can help promote more sustainable and inclusive urban development. Throughout this section, we will look at the concept of urban accessibility in more detail, show why this concept is important to understand how cities function and present the indicators most commonly used to measure accessibility levels.