Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

Great Pedestrian Environments

There has been a trend recently to set pedestrian friendly in opposition to auto friendly. I will admit that I often draw that opposition myself. But that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Things can be both pedestrian friendly and auto friendly at the same time. Here are two great examples from Columbus, Ohio.

The first comes from suburban Delaware. Here is a sidewalk shot (for all images, click the image for a full sized version):

Notice how wide the sidewalk is. There is plenty of room to stroll, or for wheelchairs to pass each other. You also see sidewalk furnture and a trash can, a decorative brick treatment, a very wide one too, and trees. None of these added features reduce the very generous width allocated to pedestrians. Historic buildings built to the lot line make this a very pedestrian friendly environment indeed.

Here’s a view that shows the entire streetscape. Note the two lanes of traffic each way plus a parking lane (which also, incidentally, provided additional pedestrian protection). There are dedicated left turn lanes at intersections. This is an incredibly auto-friendly street as well.

Incidentally, this is Sandusky St. Delaware is laid out in a “Main St.” format as opposed to a courthouse square format, though there is a county courthouse for Delaware County also on Sandusky. I’ve always wondered how towns like this managed to build their downtowns with wide enough streets to accommodate four lanes plus parking. Them must’ve been some wide streets back in the day. I see places like this from time to time, including towns like Geneva and St. Charles in Illinois, and always wonder how they ended up this way.

Speaking of auto-friendly on a main street, here’s as Main St. as it gets, High St. through Worthington, a town on the north side:

Again, High St. is as main an auto thoroughfare as it gets, but is also a very pedestrian friendly artery, and nowhere moreso than in Worthington. Note again the extremely generous sidewalk width, buildings close to the street (but not too close!), on street parking, and a significant landscaped buffer protecting the sidewalk from the roadways. Sidewalk cafes cap it all off.

I think these examples show what you can do to combine pedestrian friendly with auto-friendly. The key here is generous ROW to enable wide sidewalks, a landscaped buffer zone, parking, and ample traffic lanes. ROW is often treated as a bad thing in new urbanist thinking, but too often roadways suffer from insufficient ROW rather than a surfeit.

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Topics: Transportation
Cities: Columbus (Ohio)

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