The scientific research project “STEP UP – Walkability for Women in Milan” (Grant No. 2022-1643), submitted under the call for proposals “INEQUALITIES RESEARCH – Generating new knowledge to reduce inequalities” and awarded by Fondazione Cariplo, focuses on the needs and expectations of women while walking. Transform Transport will be coordinating STEP UP for 12 months in collaboration with Sex & the City, TeMA Lab – Department of Civil, Building, and Environmental Engineering of the Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, and Walk21 Foundation.

Gender Inclusion in Transport Planning

Advanced urban and transport planning activities are shifting towards sustainable urban mobility solutions and walkability,  referring to how friendly the urban environment is for walking in terms of proximity service availability, street connectivity, the comfort of public spaces, and road safety.
Although traditional approaches tend to focus on the spatial dimension of cities, individual characteristics of users are found to have a significant impact on the perceived level of walkability of streets and public spaces (e.g., demographics, travel purposes, mobility preferences, etc.). In particular, the current measures in place do not sufficiently consider population groups in vulnerable situations (i.e. SDG 11.2-Sustainable Transport for All), including women.

Women experience the city differently than men, in part because they are more concerned about security issues related to aggression and harassment. These concerns take the form of precautionary or avoidant behaviors due to fear of violence, perception of risk, and a sense of vulnerability, which are major mobility obstacles especially during the nighttime.

Scope and Methodology of the Research

Taking these challenges into consideration, STEP UP aims to assess the level of walkability for women focusing on the case study of Milan, Italy. First, a thematic literature review will be conducted on the most relevant scientific contributions and policy guidelines about this topic. The results of the literature review will then be exploited to select a series of relevant geolocated datasets, which will be retrieved, sorted, and filtered from open data repositories and geoportals. Data regarding the perceived level of security of women while walking will be collected through ‘Wher’ – a route planner application operated by Walk21 Foundation. All these gender-disaggregated data sets will be analyzed through GIS-Geographic Information Systems to design a multi-layered map of Milan focused on several walkability criteria, which will be then validated through survey questionnaires and focus groups.

The project results will help identify challenging areas or neighborhoods in the city of Milan, which can serve as the analytical testbed to develop a set of policy recommendations aimed at enhancing the level of walkability for women in cities. In particular, the collected disaggregated data will be used to support the definition of guidelines and policies for the design of future transport services, focusing on the impact of individual characteristics of pedestrians in relation to their gender on the perceived level of walkability. In the event of the identification of distinct problematic areas or zones, the project outcome will also highlight potential physical interventions via tactical urbanism approaches in public spaces.

Data collection

Survey on experiences of safety at night in the public space of the city of Milan

STEP UP pursues its development through a data collection with an intersectional look at safety experiences related to walking at night in the city of Milan. The aim of this phase is to collect fresh data on safety while walking aloneə in the city and to better understand this phenomenon through a gender lens. This will help us to improve existing urban design tools and to prioritise interventions that are more carefully designed around this issue.

You can find the survey in English at this link:

If you prefer to fill it in Italian, you can do it at this link: