The Center for Khmer Studies (CKS) and the Graduate School of Cambodian Mekong University (CMU) held a public lecture, entitled “Sustainable Urban Mobility: An Analysis of Street Networks and People’s Perception”, on I February 2020 from 9:00 am to 11:00 am. The lecture was given by Dr. Yen Yat, a senior fellow at CKS and a postdoctoral fellow at Peking University’s College of Urban and Environmental Sciences. About 47 participants attended the lecture. Mr. Khun Sokang, director of the Graduate School of CMU, opened the event.
Street networks (SNs) are a backbone of urban design and transport planning that facilitate socio-economic activities. Metrics on the performance of SNs could provide crucial information for urban design and transport policy. For example, a high density of streets with orthogonal patterns indicates good connectivity that promotes walking and biking. In contrast, the presence of large numbers of cul-de-sacs indicates disconnectedness, particularly between the residential streets and secondary or commercial streets. A high average circuity of streets increases travel distances from origins to destinations, which requires that road users consume more time and energy during their commutes. Additionally, a city with a large number of one-way streets and a high density of nodes and edges facilitates the flow of traffic, but a city with a high rate of “betweenness centrality” risks disrupted traffic flows.
For his research, Dr. Yen used the OSMnx tool to extract and analyze drivable, bikeable, and walkable SNs within every district of Phnom Penh from OpenStreetMap (OSM), allowing him to differentiate the three types of SN. OSMnx is a Python package that allows users to download SNs by running a few simple codes. Dr. Yen also conducted a survey to measure popular perceptions of street characteristics and walkability. He explained that topological and geometric characteristics of SNs are more conducive to walking and biking in the central districts than in the peripheral districts, as SNs in the peripheral districts are dispersed and disconnected with a large number of cul-de-sacs. According to the survey, some 58.6% of the 442 respondents indicated that the sidewalks are not safely accessible, whereas 59.3% reported that the intersections are not convenient to cross because of road conditions and drivers’ behaviors. Because of this, about 72.8% of the respondents suggested that new developments and street renewal projects should incorporate facilities, services, and safety of walking and biking so as to promote active urban mobility.