The Walkable City
Run in partnership with London Living Streets and chaired by the UDG’s Katja Stille, this event explored walkability, from strategic planning to the nitty-gritty of design measures.
Living Streets’ David Harrison began with an historic overview of walking in London, noting that 400,000 people a day walked in or out of the city in the 1850s; but the arrival of the motor car late in the century heralded the start of a massive decline in walking. Today, Living Streets is trying to grow walking trips in central London via their Central London Footways network. David described the network as ‘red routes for pedestrians’: streets that are quieter, characterful and bring pleasure to walking.
Chris Martin (Urban Movement) also referenced pleasure, emphasizing the need to make walking appealing for all. Chris singled out the problem of getting across streets, and called for design to enable spontaneity of crossing. The practical means of doing so include better positioning and the design of crossings, medians, continuous footways and corner build-outs.
Women can be disincentivized from walking because their specific needs are not considered in planning and design; something which Sarah Parry (Leeds Beckett University, below) explained in her presentation. She called for a feminist approach to walking, citing exemplar projects in Umeå, Malmö, and Vienna which delivered more gender-equal designs.
Mike Grahn (Living Streets) explored the three stages of crossing roads – the need to cross, starting to cross, and actually crossing – all of which are experienced differently depending on the person crossing. He explained how most crossings on neighbourhood streets are made informally, and people rarely deviate from desire lines. Vehicle speeds, volumes and mix should be managed to support informal crossings. Timing is critical; an adult needs a 6-10 second gap in traffic to cross, and will get annoyed waiting more than 30 seconds for a gap to appear.
We often take the shortest possible route to destinations, guided by Google Maps, but this can be the least pleasant or interesting. Peter Murray (New London Architecture) described his experience mapping and walking an alternative, largely traffic-free route from Chancery Lane to Aldgate. His walk via numerous alleys and public spaces celebrated the Square Mile’s unique mix of historic and contemporary character.
Finally, Brian Deegan (Urban Movement) talked about practical solutions to challenges when crossing at signalled junctions. Using case studies from Manchester and elsewhere he explored three common issues – no invitation to cross, staggered crossings and unmet desire lines — and explained how to resolve them. Planned changes to the Highway Code were noted with the hope that they will support designers’ efforts to make cities more walkable.
Richard Crappsley, Urban Designer, AR Urbanism
In partnership with our friends at London Living Streets.
Katja Stille UDG Executive Chair | Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design
David Harrison London Living Streets
Christopher Martin UDG Exec | Urban Movement
WHAT WE MEAN BY A WALKABLE CITY
Sarah Parry Leeds Beckett University
WALKING FOR ALL: GENDER EQUAL CITIES
Mike Grahn Living Streets
TIME TO CROSS: THE SCIENCE AND STATISTICS OF WALKING
Peter Murray New London Architecture
ENJOYING THE CITY
Brian Deegan Urban Movement
STATE OF THE ART: PRACTICAL MEASURES TO ENABLE WALKING
See event page for more info and recording of presentations