Friday, May 14, 2010

Urban Planning for Pedestrians

Helsinki Bike/Pedestrian lane [Image from]

Architect and professor Roger K. Lewis wrote in the Washington Post last week about the importance of pedestrians and what needs to change about city planning to make them pedestrian-friendly. As someone who walks pretty much everywhere, I was excited to see these great tips, which would make city dwelling MUCH more pleasant for me and many others.
-- Street patterns must be easily navigable and latticelike, with blocks that are not too big and intersections that are not too far apart. Streets must be continuous and interconnected, providing motorists and pedestrians with more than one path for traveling to a destination.

-- Public streets must be artfully proportioned. Widths of sidewalks, planting strips, cart ways and medians are critical, as are the heights and setbacks of buildings flanking streets. Well-configured street spaces balance a sense of architectural definition and enclosure with desirable exposure to sky, sunlight, air movement and views.

-- To make walking truly pleasurable, streetscape quality and amenity are important. A thoughtful mix of shade trees and vegetation beautifies streetscapes and makes them ecologically greener. Good lighting and signage, convenient street furniture and attractive paving materials enhance a streetscape experience visually and functionally.

-- It must be safe to walk, day or night. In addition to good lighting and durable walkway paving that doesn't trap high heels, streets need well-marked crosswalks and synchronized traffic-control signals. Police or other public safety officials should be seen regularly patrolling streets.

-- Buildings facing public streets need lots of windows, entrance doorways and storefronts. These benefit merchants looking for customers and pedestrians looking for merchandise. Because there is safety in numbers, streets lined by eateries with outdoor seating are even safer, not to mention livelier. People will walk along such streets because walking is delightful.

Look at cities such as New York, Boston, San Francisco, London, Paris and Barcelona. These cities have beautiful streets that encourage walking. Commuters in these cities happily walk 15 or 20 minutes from a subway or rail station, or from a parking garage, to their home, workplace or school. They don't hesitate to walk a half-mile to visit their favorite shop, cafe or friend.

Read the entire article here.

Do these sound right to you? If you don't walk often, would changes like these induce you to walk more? Is there anything missing in this evaluation?

Related posts:
How the City Hurts Your Brain (And Nature Helps)
"My Life Is More Precious than Your Car"
How To Live Car-Free in the Midwest

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1 comment:

Matthew said...

These guidelines sound right to me, and I would love it if they were put into place in more city planning ventures. Sadly, in KC (proper), those guidelines only really describe one place perfectly: the Power and Light district. While I agree that all those things make P&L a nice place to walk around and a very safe-feeling place at all times of night, maybe another inclusion to the "make things look pleasant" guidelines would be "make an effort to move in local businesses." I'd hang out at P&L more (read: ever) if they had a local restaurant/shop or two. Does P&L even have shops?