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Urban Slow Traffic System —— Creating Pedestrian Friendly Streets

In the stage of rapid urban development, our streets are gradually dominated by motor vehicle traffic, and the original pedestrian space was occupied, thus losing the charming urban space experience.

Nowadays,  more and more people realize that streets should return to the greatest potential public space in the city, the redefinition and recognition of streets are comprehensively changing the principles and guidelines of street planning and design.

1. Full-dimensional design concept: the four-dimensional space of the street

The continuous interface of the street, the vitality of businesses on both sides, and the facades of the buildings will constitute the sense of experience and participation of people walking on the street.

2. Pedestrian priority & accessibility: creating conditions for the slow traffic system

The use of roads emphasizes the priority of pedestrians, giving priority to walking and bicycles, and reducing the motor vehicles’ space.

(Source from:https://nacto.org/publication/urban-street-design-guide/street-design-elements/sidewalks/.)

3. Diversification &  interactive design: creating street vitality

Creating a variety of street forms to meet the needs of different groups of people to make street life more dynamic and humane. A good comprehensive street environment will return the street to a human-oriented space for travel and communication, thereby promoting residents to release their creative energy to built a better district.

(Source from:https://nacto.org/publication/urban-street-design-guide/street-design-elements/sidewalks/.)

4. Five spatial elements worthy of continued consideration

American scholar Reid Ewing analyzed the impact mechanism of urban space on residents’ physiology and psychology and how the quality of these urban spaces facilitates or inhibits residents’ walking behavior.

Finally, he summarized five spatial elements that have the greatest impact on the walkability index: intentionality, boundaries, human scale, transparency and complexity.

Conclusion:

The construction, renewal and improvement of healthy and safe streets will be three of the most important future urban strategies to improve the quality of urban life. “Pedestrian-friendly cities”, “walkable cities” and “inclusive streets” not only will be just terms in the future, but also will be transformed into daily behaviors integrated in the city.

References:

  1. Bajada, T., Mifsud, W.J. & Scheiber, S. (2023) ‘Transforming urban mobility and public space through slow streets. A stakeholder approach’, Journal of urban mobility, 4p. 100068.
  2. NACTO (2013). Sidewalks | National Association of City Transportation Officials. [online] National Association of City Transportation Officials. Available at :https://nacto.org/publication/urban-street-design-guide/street-design-elements/sidewalks/.
  3. Steiner, R.L. (1999) ‘Ewing: “Transportation & Land Use Innovations: When You Can’t Pave Your Way Out of Congestion” (Book Review)’. Journal of the American Planning Association 65 (3) p.p. 346.

 

One response to “Urban Slow Traffic System —— Creating Pedestrian Friendly Streets”

  1. This is a good start introducing the importance of limiting traffic on streets to create human-oriented spaces. Streets have the highest potential as public spaces and how we design them to support human activity over cars is a key opportunity.

    Building on the slow traffic system, there are a number of ways which indicate a street is catered towards pedestrians. Articulated building facades and trees can be used to indicate streets as urban environments rather than highways. This creates a clearer connection of the buildings to the streets, which encourages more pedestrian activity. Changing pavement appearance through materials or colours and highlighting crossings can clearly mark traffic calming areas. Similarly, creating shared streets by removing the distinctions between road and pavement increases awareness for vehicle users to reduce speeds (Global Designing Cities Initiative, 2022).

    Furthermore, changing road hierarchy can create more pedestrian friendly streets. Using Barcelona’s superblocks as an example, car access is restricted to the outer streets of the 9×9 block structure. The inner streets have strict speed limits to reduce vehicular use within them, allowing for more pedestrian activity. The scheme aims to reduce traffic and pollution and creates more public green spaces in the city (Guiding Architects Barcelona, 2023).

    Ultimately, creating people-friendly streets in urban areas have many benefits that improve how we interact with public spaces. Especially moving away from a car-centric society allows for better connections and experiences with others within the public realm.

    References:
    Global Designing Cities Initiative (2022), Traffic calming strategies. Available at: https://globaldesigningcities.org/publication/global-street-design-guide/designing-streets-people/designing-for-motorists/traffic-calming-strategies/
    Guiding Architects Barcelona (2023), Barcelona’s Superblocks and Green Axes, a Pathway Towards a More Sustainable City. Available at: https://www.gabarcelona.com/blog/superblocks/

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  1. This is a good start introducing the importance of limiting traffic on streets to create human-oriented spaces. Streets have the highest potential as public spaces and how we design them to support human activity over cars is a key opportunity.

    Building on the slow traffic system, there are a number of ways which indicate a street is catered towards pedestrians. Articulated building facades and trees can be used to indicate streets as urban environments rather than highways. This creates a clearer connection of the buildings to the streets, which encourages more pedestrian activity. Changing pavement appearance through materials or colours and highlighting crossings can clearly mark traffic calming areas. Similarly, creating shared streets by removing the distinctions between road and pavement increases awareness for vehicle users to reduce speeds (Global Designing Cities Initiative, 2022).

    Furthermore, changing road hierarchy can create more pedestrian friendly streets. Using Barcelona’s superblocks as an example, car access is restricted to the outer streets of the 9×9 block structure. The inner streets have strict speed limits to reduce vehicular use within them, allowing for more pedestrian activity. The scheme aims to reduce traffic and pollution and creates more public green spaces in the city (Guiding Architects Barcelona, 2023).

    Ultimately, creating people-friendly streets in urban areas have many benefits that improve how we interact with public spaces. Especially moving away from a car-centric society allows for better connections and experiences with others within the public realm.

    References:
    Global Designing Cities Initiative (2022), Traffic calming strategies. Available at: https://globaldesigningcities.org/publication/global-street-design-guide/designing-streets-people/designing-for-motorists/traffic-calming-strategies/
    Guiding Architects Barcelona (2023), Barcelona’s Superblocks and Green Axes, a Pathway Towards a More Sustainable City. Available at: https://www.gabarcelona.com/blog/superblocks/

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School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

Telephone: 0191 208 6509

Email: nicola.rutherford@ncl.ac.uk