The Pedestrian Realm

Montaigne ped

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This pattern was first found as part of what made multiway boulevards work. I now believe it is essential for any living street. Imagine a city where all the streets afford a comfortable and generous pedestrian realm…

City streets serve a dual complex function. They provide for through movement, and they allow access to land uses along them. Both functions are fundamental to the social and economic functions of cities, particularly on major streets. When the through movement overwhelms the slow paced accessibility which is necessarily pedestrian, the street becomes dangerous and unpleasant to live on.

Therefore:

To achieve a workable pedestrian real at least half, but preferably two thirds of the street section should be designed at the pedestrian scale. Cars may park or move within that space, but they should be allowed to move only slowly.

The edge of the pedestrian realm should be marked strongly – preferrably by a continuous line of trees.

Parking within the pedestrian realm could be allowed and even encouraged, it helps to slow movement down, create interaction on the street and provide easier access to the buildings along it.

Within the pedestrian realm car movement should be restricted to one passing lane – otherwise drivers may speed up and destroy the integrity of the realm.

Pedestrian amenities, such as bus stations, kiosks and benches should be located in the boundary area between the pedestrian realm and the movement realm – thus drawing pedestrians to move across it, and take possession of the space

The slow moving nature of the pedestrian realm can be reinforced by a different paving from the through movement realm, and by a slight change in level.

3 Comments to “The Pedestrian Realm”

  1. davidweek

    I’m not clear on the context for this pattern. You start with “This pattern was first found as part of what made multiway boulevards work.” But then you expand the context to “City streets serve a dual complex function.”

    Therefore I think the pattern may only apply to Boulevards, or other wide streets. In Melbourne, there are many narrow laneways, of which only 1/6 or less is devoted to pedestrians. However, cars still move slowly because of the narrow overall width. Therefore, it seems to me that there must be a lower limit, below which the pattern is not required.

  2. yodanr

    On the contrary, when the streets are narrow, and cars can move only slowly, often you will see people walking in the same area as the cars – in that case the whole street is a pedestrian realm. Moreover, the pattern also points out the importance of designing such streets as pedestrian realms (without necessarily banishing cars from them). Perhaps I should be more explicit with regard to different street conditions.

  3. davidweek

    When I read your pattern again, I see that the difficulty is in the first paragraph.

    “To achieve a workable pedestrian real at least half, but preferably two thirds of the street section should be designed at the pedestrian scale. Cars may park or move within that space, but they should be allowed to move only slowly.”

    In this laneway, for instance:
    http://nasher.duke.edu/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/pc120136.jpg
    as you it’s not that cars are moving in the pedestrian zone, but that pedestrians feel comfortable in the car zone.

    Part of the key here are the curbs, which demarcate pure pedestrian from mixed car + ped.

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