Pollution levels the world over are rising, even as the effects of climate change worsen. In response, countries across the world have increasingly been testing solutions to make cities less congested, freeing up space for communities. Pedestrianization has been one such initiative. During the pandemic, various cities such as New York redesigned roadways to create spaces for people to walk around, bike, and mingle within the local community. As the pandemic eased, many of these measures were kept on. These measures encourage walking, thus helping to reduce some of the air pollution. But how do you redesign streets and entire cities to make them more pedestrian-friendly? Here are four key elements to keep in mind for a better pedestrian experience.
There are a number of ways of making streets safer for pedestrians. One way is to design shorter blocks, since they lead to more intersections. The increased number of intersections offer many more spaces for pedestrians to cross safely, reducing dangerous practices such as jaywalking. City planners can also incorporate roadway design elements such as signage and stripes that easily indicate key information to both vehicle owners and pedestrians to help them commute safely.
There are a number of ways of slowing down traffic at critical spots such as areas with schools. Speed humps that force vehicle drivers to slow down are one such measure. Well-designed speed humps have been proven to be extremely effective in reducing the number of road accidents. A raised pedestrian crossing is another way of slowing down traffic. It also has the added benefit of making pedestrians more visible to car drivers.
Narrower roads have a two-fold advantage. They shorten the distance people have to cover when they’re crossing the street. Plus, they also make speeding difficult for car drivers. Another important advantage is that adding sidewalks helps make streets narrower. Sidewalks encourage walking and make it safer for pedestrians to get around the city.
Roundabouts are a great way of making streets safer for both pedestrians and vehicle drivers. Building traffic circles and roundabouts has been shown to lessen the number of fatal and severe injuries in case of road accidents. This is because, in a roundabout, cars and other vehicles have to move in the same direction. They also have to slow down often. This reduces both the number of head-on collisions and also the severity of crashes.
Greater pedestrianization has a huge number of benefits for urban communities. It encourages people to walk and thus get fitter. It also results in lesser traffic and thus, lesser pollution. Finally, making cities and spaces people-friendly also promotes community well-being by offering the people the space and many more opportunities to mingle. Roadway design can play a key role in this by making streets and communities both safer and people centric. Keeping the above four elements in mind can go a long way in ensuring proper urban planning and design.