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Inclusive Design

One size does not fit all

Why is this important?

Every design has the potential to include and exclude people. Inclusive design considers the importance of user diversity when making design decisions to create places which everyone can use. For street design, inclusive design aims to remove the barriers that create undue effort and separation. It enables everyone to participate equally, confidently and independently in everyday activities (Design Council, 2021). This creates spaces that are accessible, safe, attractive and easy to navigate. Designing infrastructure with a gender lens offers enabling environments that creates equal opportunities. 



Drivers for change:

  • Place people at the heart of the design process by acknowledging diversity and difference. Consider different groups of people when designing schemes to ensure they are inclusive rather than exclusionary.

  • Adopt participatory design processes. Seek out views of all genders to address and incorporate gendered considerations within the design process.

  • Ensure designs are responsive: Identify the existing issues first through participatory exercises- who is excluded? what currently works/doesn't work? what improvements would people like?

  • Mitigate safety risks. Consider how the design will be experienced during the day and during the night to create places which do not elicit feelings of fear or raise safety concerns (both real and perceived). 

  • Ensure accessibility by all modes. Consider accessibility to your design location by all modes ​for all hours, not just the peak periods.

  • Consider distances to/and provision of accessible public toilets. "Inadequate toilet provision undermines people’s mobility and chances of freely accessing and moving around" (Greed, 2020).

On Bikes

Case studies:

Getting Home Safe - Safe by Design​

In April 2021 Atkins published guidance to create safer first and last mile journeys for women. This guidance is the result of research and real life incidents and has been designed to support practitioners and delivery partners.

The report identifies six areas to focus on to create safer journeys for women. These are:

  • Landscape (natural and manmade structures and assets which design in safety, ambience and comfort);

  • Human presence (“Eyes on the Street”, maximising opportunities for human activity to create a collective sense of safety and surveillance and reduce isolation);

  • Digital (design and application of technological innovation to improve safety and comfort);

Bike Path
  • Infrastructure (engineering measures to ‘hard wire’ in safety, ambience and comfort);

  • Community/social (to make create Places for People with a community spirit and ethos); and

  • TLC (‘Look and feel’ aspects which create a ‘cared for’ streetscape). 

Click here to read the report.


Cycling for everyone: A guide for inclusive cycling in cities and towns

In July 2020 Sustrans and Arup jointly published guidance to help make cycling more inclusive in the UK. This guidance is a result of research and engagement with demographic groups less likely to cycle. These are often people from disadvantaged groups, namely women, people from minority ethnic groups, disabled people, older people and people at risk of deprivation. It is designed to support people in the transport sector and decision makers. Recommendations are made around three themes: improving governance, better places and supporting people.

Click here to read the report.


The World Bank (2020) - Handbook for Gender Inclusive Urban Planning and Design 

The World Bank have developed this handbook as a valuable resource for practitioners seeking to take concrete steps towards taking a more gender-inclusive design approach. 

It outlines why gender-inclusive urban planning and design matters and how this is done. It also provides case studies that highlight real world examples of gender inclusive design. 

Click here to read the report.


Sustrans- Review of the National cycle Network 2018: Paths for everyone

Working in partnership with local authorities, land owners and communities, SUSTRANS reviewed the National Cycle Network to overcome issues of intermittent quality and inconsistent access for different users. Survey results were disaggregated by gender, finding that women supported 'paths that are accessible to everyone who wants to use them'. The review concluded the need for 'removing or redesigning all 16,000 barriers… to make it accessible to everyone'. Newly agreed design principles include traffic free paths suitable for pushchairs to make paths safer and more accessible for everyone. It also encourages greater community involvement of designing the network. 

Click here to read the report.

Streets of London

TramLab Toolkit 2: Toolkit for Gender-Sensitive Placemaking

This Toolkit, which is one out of a set of four (see Inclusive Empowering Industry page and Disaggregated Data page), is the outcome of a joint research project by La Trobe University, Monash University XYX Lab and RMIT which seeks to improve the safety of women and girls on public transport.  This toolkit, which has drawn on research from a range of different studies and data sources, looks at gender-sensitive placemaking processes and how they can be used to facilitate engagement, plan and design for safer and more inclusive spaces for diverse cross-sections of women.

Click here to view the toolkit.

Image by Ryoji Iwata
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