Analyzing Pedestrian Spaces
REG 03 - 16 - 2010

Two aspects that stand out in European-influenced streetscape design is the attention to efficiency and pedestrian experience. In the following analysis, we will analyze four approaches that were found in St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Tallinn and Budapest. An example in St. Petersburg separated each direction of traffic with a pedestrian greenway that was planted with small to medium sized trees, turf and shrubs and had sufficient illumination to make it feel safe at night. The scale of the buildings, topping out at three-to-four stories in relation to the width of the streetscape gave the feel that eyes were on the corridor. A wide pedestrian walk passed between a single row of parallel parking and the ground level retail of the buildings. The success of the space is realized by the efficiency of vehicular traffic and the comfort of the pedestrian and cyclists for whom the passageway was designed. Helsinki took a different approach to transit corridors. Transit corridors around Senate Square were narrower. They accommodated trams, cars, bicyclists and pedestrians in tight spaces that would open up to larger plazas, avenues or boulevards. The pedestrian plazas and avenues catered primarily to the bustling urban population, as mass transit allows for increased activity without additional personal vehicles. The success of the spaces is made possible by an advanced mass transit system, high urban density and outdoor rooms provided by these plazas and avenues. Streets in Tallinn were used to their fullest. A cohesive identity for each neighborhood was realized with signage, flags and banners; paving, street trees, light posts and benches. The scale of the buildings (2-5 stories) in relation to the narrow vehicular right of way made for a comfortable walking experience along a well-lit, vegetated corridor. Cyclists had designated lanes and vehicular traffic remained low-velocity. The ratio of pedestrian and cyclist space to vehicular space was nearly 2:1. The success of the space owes to the rich detailing of the paving, ground level facades and canopy as well as the designation of space for particular activities. Finally, the axis leading to Heroes' Square in Budapest represented the most complex, yet functional organization of transit space. Two-four story buildings opened onto semi-private front yards. Secondary one-way roads with a single row of parallel parking flanked either side of the primary thoroughfare. Buffering the primary avenue were two vegetated pedestrian greenways. The success of the space pays dues to the dense, yet efficient traffic, designation of public and private space as well as the hierarchy of through and local transit needs. Low and high-velocity, vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian traffic could coexist with ease and relative comfort. Lessons learned: there are many ways to skin a cat. Right: Street sections and plans for the four streetscapes. Below: Pedestrian oriented streetscape.

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...