For many people, the concept of ‘Walkability’ simply means how many shops, cafe’s, schools and other services are within walking distance of a particular location. While this is a really important part of a walkable neighbourhood (people won’t walk if there is nothing to walk to) there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that several other factors improve or reduce the walkability of a street or neighbourhood.
Now a new book by urban designer Julie Campoli adds to this discussion by exploring several key factors that combine to create truly walkable streets and communities. In her new book from the Lincoln Institute: Made for Walking: Density and Neighborhood Form, Campoli argues that simply having shops, services and venues within walking distance is not enough.
San Francisco is famous for its steep hills, in fact they are part of what makes the city so distinctive and unique. There are over 50 hills within the city and while they provide some great views once you’re at the top, they can also be a real pain to walk up!
For most of us, when we’re walking in the city, the safest place to be is on the pavement or sidewalk. However a new movement in urban street design, called ‘Shared Space’, is challenging this kind of thinking. Shared Space streets aim to reduce the dominance of cars by getting people and vehicles to share the road space. Controversially, this sometimes includes removing kerbs so that there is no physical demarcation between the pavement and the rest of the street. Surprisingly, this risky strategy has arguably made streets safer for pedestrians, with less accidents and slower vehicle speeds. Now the UK government has released official guidance on Shared Space, which not only shows the benefits and problems of the idea, but also attempts to provide advice on how to create high quality Shared Space streets.
Walking can and should be cool. If you don’t agree, then argue with the Cool Kids, who once said “If I catwalk this sidewalk, I can fly this”. If that lyric means anything, and I’m not sure if it does, it means that walking is the coolest form of transport.
But part of making walking more fashionable, is about creating street environments where we feel cool.