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Bradford is tranquillity trailblazer

Published: Thur 14 Dec 2017

The University of Bradford is leading the way in showing city dwellers how they can escape the hustle and bustle and recharge their batteries, without leaving the city.

Researchers at the University have developed a method of identifying tranquil walking routes in urban areas - tranquillity trails - and can assess how successful they are at achieving the goal using the Tranquillity Rating Prediction Tool.

The process measures how relaxing urban environments and public spaces are, linking green open spaces and watersides and using quiet residential roads or footpaths to form a circular walking route.

In a new paper published in the Urban Forests and Urban Greening journal*, lead researcher Professor Greg Watts uses the tool to predict the variation of tranquillity along the various routes and the proportion of time spent at each level of tranquillity. The routes described are in Bradford, Kingsbridge in South Devon and Guildford, covering a range of urban areas of different sizes and in widely different regions of England.

A questionnaire survey carried out amongst walkers revealed that all respondents considered the tranquillity of the route as “very important” or “fairly important”. Over three-quarters indicated that they were more relaxed and nearly two- thirds were less anxious after completing the tranquillity trail.

Nearly half mentioned healthy exercise and over a quarter said that they had new and interesting experiences while others mentioned social aspects of following the route with a friend or family member.

The success of these trails has led to the design of a further route in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, and trails are under development in Waterford and Tramore in the south of Ireland and in Leeds.

Professor Watts said: “Cities can be stressful places with congested roads to negotiate and pavements full of shoppers or commuters hurrying to the next destination. The traffic noise, horns, sirens all add to the cacophony. Being able to identify those routes that offer the highest levels of tranquillity has real benefits, both physical and psychological, and more areas are now taking advantage of our method to establish tranquillity trails of their own.”

*Greg Watts, “Tranquillity Trails for urban areas”, Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 29 (2018) 154–161.

Bradford’s tranquillity trail

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