Posted by Selma Bjorklund

Walk it off

Have you heard about the ‘superblocks’ in Barcelona – where a cluster of city blocks form a huge new block, within which car traffic is very limited? This idea was implemented as a way of decreasing air pollution, which in turn has increased economic growth and walkability in these urban areas.

Prioritising pedestrians rather than cars in urban design is something that we see more and more of, and is in my opinion vital if we want to survive as a specie. Saying that “we’re killing our planet” is factually wrong, the planet itself is fine. The only thing potentially being killed by our habits is everything living on earth, very much including the human race. Short rant over, back to the subject: pedestrian friendly cities.

‘Increased walkability’ arises from a mix of many factors, one of them being integration with other modes of transportation. Even if the Utopia has zero motorized vehicles, our current cities do not. We need to make sure that all of our systems work together, so that none of them are too disrupted by the others. Road crossings are a prime example of where multiple modes meet and a solution is required that balances the needs of drivers, cyclists and pedestrians alike, without compromising safety, just like the one in the video linked below.

Many factors affect how well a crossing serves its purpose of enabling several systems to coexist. How good is the visibility, both for cars and pedestrians? How safe do pedestrians feel while crossing? Does it disturb other parts of the system? For a project, Smart Space has modelled pedestrian and car movements for a specified crossing to find potential solutions that optimise flows and safety at this busy interface. Here we observe how crowded the pedestrian waiting space is, we reviewed whether the crossing is wide enough for people to cross comfortably in both directions, and how it affects car traffic. Using predictive modelling we can get a glimpse of how this space might perform once built, and therefore make sure we build a space that works as well as possible.

I for one love walking, and look forward to less and less car traffic in urban areas. Not being able to walk somewhere makes me a little bit stressed, and walkability is a key factor for me when trying to decide where I want to settle. How is the walkability in your city? Have you ever visited a city and been struck by how busy/ less walkable it is, and if so, what city? Join us in the comment section below!”

Reply with feedback and/or concerns (:

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