Made in the shade : using GIS to model pedestrian shade in Austin, Texas
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There are many benefits to living in a walkable city, and just as many barriers to making a city truly pedestrian-friendly. In hot climates such as Austin, Texas, high temperatures are a principal challenge to walkability and also a safety concern when temperatures rise above 100°F. Although city planning came about largely to protect the streetscape from unbridled, sunlight- blocking development, too much sunshine can be just harmful and therefore shade provision merits the attention of urban planners. One useful tool for shade analysis and planning for shade provision is Geographic Information Systems (GIS). However, GIS has typically been limited to tree cover analysis, leaving out the significant contributions of the built environment for shade provision. This report examines recent applications of GIS for walkability analysis and planning efforts to enhance pedestrian comfort in Austin, and then presents an analysis of shade provision in East Sixth Street, Austin, Texas, focusing on 3D modeling of the built environment. It is the hope that this study will inform future shade research and analysis for improved walkability, particularly in cities located in hot climates.