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.
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.
Most 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.