And another thing… Pedestrian Thinking?

Following on from the last post – no wonder we have such a hard time convincing people to consider the creation of a walking city (note: a walking city includes our rollin’ brothers & sisters).

The word ‘pedestrian’ has become in our society a kind of insult, meaning: slow, stulted, non-creative, inefficient and a bit lame.  In other words not fast, not sexy, not cool.  Which is why I love the work of Living Streets Aotearoa. From their website:

We want more people walking and enjoying public spaces be they young or old, fast or slow, whether walking, sitting, commuting, shopping, between appointments, or out on the streets for exercise, for leisure or for pleasure.

Let’s take back our public spaces!

This is from the page I linked to in the previous post: the Traffic Transport & Road Safety Associates (Ireland) website.  But it was so compelling I just wanted to give it a post all to itself.  Here’s the link again:


Why Pedestrianise?
  • Improving Road Safety – reducing the potential for conflict between vulnerable road users like pedestrians and cyclists and motor vehicles creates a significant reduction in the number of accidents within the pedestrianised area.  In Odda in Norway accident reductions of over 80% were reported.
  • Improving Economic Vitality – most retailers, at least in town centres, appreciate that the number of people walking past their shop and not the number of people driving past their shop is key to getting people inside to spend money.  Pedestrians comparison shop, and research conducted in the United Kingdom reported increases in sales of upto 20% per year in the first few years following pedestrianisation. Research from 11 cities in Germany showed average rent increases of 50% after pedestrianisation. Chartered Surveyor Weekly reported that following the introduction of the footstreets concept in York, United Kingdom, a boom in retail sales was accompanied by rent increases of upto 400%.
  • Improving Social Interaction – increasing the amount that people meet, talk and interact, has been shown to have health benefits, but also creates a sense of community and a pride in the space or place.
  • Improving Health – in the same way that providing streets to drive on has been shown to increase traffic levels, providing a good walking environment has been shown to increase the number of people walking. Studies tend to show that the number of people walking within the immediate area will increase by over 50%.
  • Improving the environment – It is over 30 years since the OECD studied the link between environmental improvement and the removal of traffic.  Whilst some of the noted benefits such as reductions in Carbon Monoxide have now been addressed through the introduction of catalytic converters to vehicles, creating a modal shift from the car to walking reduces the level of CO2 helping the country to meet its emissions targets. Noise levels are also reduced by up to 15 decibels.


So, what kind of city do you want to live in?


6 thoughts on “And another thing… Pedestrian Thinking?

  1. Good to see social interaction mentioned. When I had very small children I was (as I am now) lucky enough to be living somewhere were there are a lot of people walking up and down the street. Those small moments of interaction are a lifesaver for parents of young children

    • Yes, that’s a good point. The list of benefits above are, in the true sense, ALL health benefits – road safety, economic vitality, the environment. And that last sentence is not to be underestimated – noise reduction – that makes such a difference to the ability to talk, and the general ambience of a space.

  2. Wonderful post! Lets take back the city. My instant daydream is organising a protest to lie down on some of the major city streets to promote walking and not cars – and thats from me who some people might consider to be relatively conservative! Imagine Colombo Street filled with grass squares, trees and shrubs where people purposely come into town to enjoy and relax with the surrounds and at the same time pop into the boutiquee (is that a word?) shops. WOW! Imagine also the buskers and performances e.g at corner of cashel and colombo – a lovely grass square with seating around it – a lovely ampitheatre. And the Cathedral Square – grass. grass and more grass! Then the walk (colombo street up to Kilmore would be pedistrian as well) up to Victoria Square – another connector to a lovely park. The Garden City would really live up to its name with beautifully designed garden and walkways with wonderful sculptures – interactive at that!
    Now the good news is that all this could be done at relatively low cost – it could be paid for by selling off expensive imported stone we now have in the Square. Wow! It could be cost neutral!
    Good article. Lets get some good feedback.

    • Brilliant ideas Grant! Thanks for posting them – I totally see your vision – I’d live in that city! Oh for some leadership with VISION. I can already hear the howls of protest from the business community. Why won’t they look at the evidence. And why won’t city representatives, elected by us, base their decisions on PEOPLE rather than business, machines, money and technology. People come first, the rest will follow. After all, we’re the ones who make business, use machines, spend money and invent/buy technology. I say again, “what kind of city do you WANT to live in?”

  3. Hi Ciaran, a couple of interesting points – notice that shop sales went up 20% but rents for shops went up 50% or more – I’m guessing i’ts not those running the shops getting rich! And Grant’s comment about grass is good for the public spaces, but how about some fruit trees too, free food for whoever is passing. All city centres should be pedestrian/bike only with roads for delivery vehicles only and good public transport to get there.

    • Well spotted except that the 20% sales figure came from the UK and the rent increases were noticed in Germany. I suppose the assumption is that sales figures went up correspondingly in Germany. That’s the problem often with looking at several studies from different countries – they don’t always use the same measures. It would be interesting to know whether the rents went up in the UK as a result of the tenants doing more business. However in my experience landlords like to put up rents regardless of what’s going on in their buildings! Many NZ city councils are adopting policies to plant edible trees and plants such as fruit and nut trees in their urban environments – I’m pretty sure the ChCh city council is doing this but I’m yet to find their policy about it online… In the meantime there’s the Urban Foragers network which deserves to be highlighted in a post methinks… Thanks for dropping by DB!

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