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Accessibility and Spatial Accessibility Essay (Book Review)

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Updated: Jan 16th, 2022


Accessibility refers to the capacity to reach amenities or services that are outside an individual’s home and are deemed important for people’s health and quality of life (Mayaud et al. 2019). Vickermand and A (1974) argued that accessibility comprises two essential facets. They argued that one of the components of accessibility characterized a substantial location on a region in relation to appropriate destinations while the other depicted the features of transportation systems that connected the points on the surface. The majority of scholars who have delved into the field of accessibility focus on numerous areas, including urban settings (Deboosere, El-Geneidy & Levinson 2018; Zhao et al. 2018), economic growth (Reggiani 2019), and the distance to the workplaces (Cui et al. 2019). These initial studies touch on subjects like transportation, availability of housing, land use, health facilities, and civil structures (Ben-Elia, Benenson & Practice 2019). Accessibility is essential mostly due to its unequal division, the need for careful and elaborate preparation, and the ability to satisfy existing demand. Analyzing accessibility aids in ascertaining the presence of diverse facilities, especially in regions that are inadequately served (Neutens 2015) and the spatially and economically deprived residents who do not enjoy financial and transportation services and have difficulties reaching certain facilities. Depending on these parameters, accessibility can become a critical concern.

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Regarding social fairness and impartiality, which call for thorough planning and effective laws or policies by government organizations (Wang, FJC, June 2007). Although many people use the word accessibility, they lack the means to quantify or define this term (Karner 2018). Diverse circumstances have referred to the idea of accessibility differently. In some instances, this term has been used to signify a target in transportation guidelines, a medium in rural development laws (Lucas, Van Wee & Maat 2016), or evaluated with regard to the price of reaching a prospective destination (Tal & Handy 2012). Ingram (1971) identified two categories of accessibility, which were ‘integral’ and ‘relative’. Relative accessibility referred to the extent to which two sites that fall on the same surface are networked. Conversely, integral accessibility depicts the level of interconnection between a particular spot and all the other locations that fall on the same plane. It has also been regarded as the likelihood of prospects for contact.

As per an explanation fronted by Dalvi (1978), accessibility signifies the simplicity with which a given service can be obtained from a specific area, via a certain transport system. Moreover, geographical phrases and non-geographical aspects like affordability and civilization are used to describe the concept of accessibility (Leung et al. 2019). With respect to geography, accessibility normally signifies the degree of challenges encountered in the effort to reach a specific location or obtain services in a bigger region. It is computed using parameters like the distance traveled, the time is taken and the transportation charges (La Rosa et al. 2018). Another approach to assessing the idea of accessibility entails treating it as comprising two other facets which are attractiveness and impedance (Handy, Niemeier & 1997; Lessa, Lobo & Cardoso 2019). The authors defined the element of ‘impedance’ as the movement from one location to another which is premised on the distance traveled and the experience gained during the journey. On the other hand, transportation cost and distance covered may impact the attractiveness or incentive to travel.

Likewise, Stone (2010) came up with two descriptions of accessibility. Firstly, the author defined this term as the price, ease, time is taken and expediency of traveling. They treated the course of the journey as from one’s home to a given establishment. Moreover, accessibility is pegged on the means of transport and its correlation to the beginning and end of a voyage. Secondly, he described it as the chance to utilize amenities following trips of varying distances (Ortega et al. 2016). Therefore, it is sufficient to state that accessibility delineates the relationship between population distribution and the position of services in a given area such as cities (Bonotti et al. 2015). The writer has also underlined that access to social services and activities is essential to individuals’ daily life. Another significant discourse touches on availability and accessibility. The two terms are not synonymous and the latter might rely on the ease of use of services as Guagliardo (2004) posits. The author alleges that since many service sites are mostly found in developed regions, people should consider their accessibility and availability concurrently. However, it is imperative to understand that the two terms do not carry the same meaning. The area in which a significant share of the global population occupies, spatial equity – another term for spatial justice – is evidently an essential component of sustainable growth and – as this equity has a direct impact on people’s interests – belongs to the class of social sustainability. This has repercussions on the quality of life, both independently and jointly. The systemic association amid all these elements underscores the reason geography creates equitable spatial frameworks that might be invaluable to public administrators and can facilitate the establishment of fundamental participative laws that guarantee improved quality of life to people. Therefore, the initial phase involves the use of information technology to ascertain the accessibility of essential social services (Pitarch-Garrido 2018). Conventionally, ‘access’ means an opening into, the right of admission into, or the utilization of services. Spatial accessibility can be described as the definite reach to an ideal destination. Moreover, it also symbolizes the ease of transfer of people from one area to another (Jamtsho, Corner & Dewan 2015; Yigitcanlar, Dur & Dizdaroglu 2015). Furthermore, spatial accessibility denotes the connection between regions of supply and areas of demand for particular services, factoring the available transportation system and the expense and duration of travel (Ortega et al. 2016). In relation to geography, spatial accessibility represents the simplicity with which people from a particular region can get to facilities or obtain services (Jamtsho, Corner & Dewan 2015). Two terms are occasionally used interchangeably: geographical accessibility and spatial accessibility (Jamtsho, Corner & Dewan 2015; Malekzadeh 2015; Yigitcanlar, Dur & Dizdaroglu 2015). Joseph and Phillips (1984) noted that spatial accessibility heightened the role of physical distance between service and demand as a blockade or a catalyst. Spatial accessibility is invaluable in guaranteeing logical distribution of resources to people from diverse population quarters in both rural and urban areas. Nonetheless, attempt to execute such thoughts have been curtailed by various hurdles because of the marginalization and remoteness of the facilities (Jamtsho et al. 2015). This challenge has prevented the provision of excellent services (Luo & Qi 2009). Scholars like Luo and Qi (2009) allege that spatial accessibility includes the presence of basic services in a particular area. Moreover, it is confirmed that the regional availability involves the allocation of services and their need in a population-to-supplier proportion. Conversely, accessibility to the services comprises intricate associations that prevail between the delivery and order at diverse locations (Luo & Qi 2009). Computer advancement, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and arithmetic and spatial statistical techniques have made it easy for scientists to compute spatial accessibility (Wang 2012; Zhang, Wang & Lin 2015; Zhang et al. 2015). The majority of the research focuses on prospective spatial accessibility which assesses the current service-provision systems and formulates plans for their advancement (Wang 2007; Jamtsho et al. 2015; Malekzadeh 2015).The rate or degree of satisfaction for using a particular service reveals spatial access. One requires conducting a survey to obtain this critical variable (Wang 2007). Depending on the review, scholars often use the phrases ‘spatial patterns of accessibility and ‘spatial accessibility’ without discrimination (Ikporukpo 1987; Jamtsho, Corner & Dewan 2015), however many authors have used the expression ‘spatial accessibility’ to signify the reality of being capable of reaching a particular area, for any person, to some organization through a transportation system. In contrast, the phrase ‘spatial patterns of accessibility is used to denote the space allocation of particular spatial accessibility parameters (Ortega et al. 2016). Wang, FJE, Planning, and Design (2001) in an examination of spatial access, revealed the effects of employees’ characteristics on employment access and travel time. Wang, FJE, Planning, and Design (2001) analyzed the different qualities of the workforce, including remuneration, gender, race, family structure, education, and/or residential status which determines the distance and time that one has to take to get to their workplace. Similarly, in a study that examined the access to health services, Wang and Luo (2005) noted numerous spatial variables: (i) demographic such as sexual orientation, age, and ethnicity; (ii) socioeconomic situation such as earnings, paucity, and homeownership; (iii) housing conditions e.g. homes with limited or no essential facilities; (iv) Language challenges or the lack of information regarding basic services e.g. families that did not speak English (or any formal language), profession or people with basic education; and (v) transportation convenience e.g. homes that did not afford to buy cars (Wang & Luo 2005). Indeed, disciplines like social science, mathematics, public health, physics, geography, planning, civil engineering, and transportation have focused on and expounded on the subject of spatial accessibility. Thus, this concept can be regarded as an essential ingredient in the provision of communal and private services (Murray & Wu, 2003).


  1. Mayaud, Y. (2019). . Revue de Science Criminelle et de Droit Pénal Comparé, N°2(2), 347. Web.
  2. Deboosere, R., El-Geneidy, A. M., & Levinson, D. (2018). Accessibility-oriented development. Journal of Transport Geography, 70, 11–20.
  3. Vickerman, R. W. (1974). . Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 6(1), 65–77. Web.
  4. Zhao, H., Wang, Q., Liu, C., Shang, Y., Wen, F., Wang, F., Liu, W., Xiao, W., & Li, W. (2018). Genetics, 208(3), 1181–1194. Web.
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