Monday, November 22, 2010

Walkability and the Importance of Street Design : A Fifteen Minute Writing Exercise

Sidewalk design plays an important role in increasing walkability in an area. The architectural features adjacent to sidewalks are also important. Certain features entice people to walk. Often people just want to be around other people – to be seen. Designing street fronts with the pedestrian in mind drastically alters the street. While recently walking in San Francisco’s financial district – I noticed I was surrounded by parking garages on both sides of the street. Who would walk down this block and why?

Too often streets are designed for one user in mind – the automobile. Engineers and planners fuss endlessly about parking capacity and traffic volume while our cities’ street life decays. If we are concerned about lowering vehicle miles traveled, then maybe it should be least convenient to drive. Street design is only one component. People may walk for pleasure, but wouldn’t it be best if there was a destination in mind?