David Chapman, Kristina L. Nilsson, Agatino Rizzo & Agneta Larsson

This study explores urban design principles for winter settlements to identify climate-related conditions that affect soft mobility (walking and cycling) in these communities. Winter communities have evolved lifestyles and means suited to living and working with local conditions and seasonal variation. However, climate change will cause changes in weather that will require adaptation in such communities. These changes may present new risks and unexpected challenges to outdoor soft mobility in the community. Physical inactivity has emerged as a major focus of concern in public health policy. Winter weather has always limited outdoor soft mobility in winter settlements. In particular, outdoor activity in winter can be reduced by inclement weather and fear of accidents. People’s understanding of the barriers to and enablers of soft mobility are also often based on experience and ability to detect environmental clues. To help winter communities maximise the opportunities for outdoor soft mobility and the associated wellbeing benefits, built environments must be designed with an understanding of climate change.

This study explores barriers to and enablers of soft mobility in winter and discusses them in light of climate change and human wellbeing. It is argued that established principles of urban design may require re-evaluation if we want to increase outdoor soft mobility in winter. Increases in physical activity could help reduce costs and pressures on health services by creating safer and more walkable communities. The paper concludes by suggesting that communities should focus on more context-based winter urban design principles that account for ongoing climate change.

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