October 17 2012

Planning for Pedestrians: How and Why We Should Put People Before Vehicles

If there’s one thing The Grid’s bloggers are passionate about, it’s putting people back into the urban equation. One example of this ideology is the push for pedestrian-friendly communities. We have explored car-free towns, lamented the “National Automobile Slum,” and pondered Neotraditionalist and New Urbanist design.

Street Art in Paris (Author Unknown)But how can your community achieve a vivacious streetscape?

The Victoria Transportation Policy Institute and Walkable Communities provide many tips and resources to encourage pedestrian activity. While some of these aspects are in the care of urban planners, such as human scale in block length and street width, others can be achieved by individual property owners or developers:

  • High quality, sufficient quantity, and connectivity of pathways;
  • Universal design to accommodate varying degrees of mobility;
  • Availability of inviting street furniture and shade;
  • The inclusion of parks and plazas in landscape design;
  • Concentration of activity through mixed-use development.

Banff AvenueMost of the aspects above can be accommodated in existing developments through a little renovation. Here in Banff, Canada, the Town of Banff recently partnered with business and property owners along the main avenue through town to revitalise the pedestrian environment. The Banff Avenue Refresh saw the installation of benches and planters, new street lighting, pedestrian-controlled crosswalks to break up larger blocks, and new traffic control signals to decrease accidents among vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians. In addition to the pedestrian improvements, the new streetscape reflects and emphasizes the beautiful surroundings of Banff National Park.

The improvements that Banff has made to its streets, combined with the existing urban design pattern of the town site, have made it a joy to live, work, and play in. It is a high quality walkable community, a place where the presence of cars does not infringe on the safety and enjoyment of those who choose to walk, cycle, or linger out of doors.

Do you live in a walkable community? Which aspects are inviting – or an obstacle – to pedestrian activity?

Credits: Images and data linked to the sources.

Jordan Rockerbie

Jordan Rockerbie is a former The Grid blogger and a graduate of the University of British Columbia, holding a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Studies with a minor in Geography. Originally from Victoria, BC, Canada, he has also made his home in Kelowna, BC, Canada; Banff, AB, Canada; and Singapore. He has a budding interest in urban planning and design, inspired by the vibrant cities he calls home and the natural landscapes that form their backdrop. His passions lie in architecture, parks, active transportation, and innovative redevelopment.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 17th, 2012 at 2:12 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Infrastructure, Transportation, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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