Posts Tagged ‘walking’
There has been quite a lot of press lately for a service out of the US called WalkScore (David Leggott blogged about the site in January and the Business2 blog had a post today.) Although I love the idea of WalkScore I have issues with how it generates the score. It bases the score on the distance to local amenities but ignores other environmental aspects such as the quality of the sidewalks, street frontage, crossing signals and traffic conditions.
A more complete walkability audit needs to be completed to get a true understanding of the actual walk score for a neighbourhood. This is where a local organisation Living Streets comes in. Living Streets does (among other things) walkability audits of various suburbs such as Brooklyn in Wellington (report). To give an idea of the sorts of issued raised by the audit here is a short extract on the intersection of Ohiro Road and Todman Street.
Although this intersection has an overall walkability rating of A, participants commented that they felt under pressure from vehicles turning left from Ohiro Road into Todman Street. This was partly due to the fact that vehicles have to stop and start on a hill and they need to accelerate harder to get up it, making them approach the crossing faster than they perhaps normally would.
Two of the participants also felt that the pedestrian phase was too short, not allowing pedestrians enough time to cross before turning back to the red light. Participants noted that this is a particular problem at peak times when large numbers of people are crossing at the same time.
It is recommended that more priority be given to pedestrians crossing the street, preferably by keeping the traffic light signal on red whilst pedestrians cross, allowing pedestrians to cross without feeling under pressure and in danger from turning vehicles.
If this is not possible, we would suggest at least that the pedestrian phase be extended, particularly during peak commuter hours, to allow pedestrians to cross without hurrying and putting themselves in danger of falling.
As you can see many factors have to be taken into account when determining the walkability of a suburb, not just how close is the local dairy! I can however see the day when all neighbourhoods have proper walkability audits completed and published in a machine readable format. When this happens maybe WalkScore could integrate this data as well for an even more accurate score?
Here is a great idea for a city – A walking Metro map. I can see this really working in cities that are inherently walkable such as Wellington. Every time I go to Wellington I tend to walk to most of my meetings or between the various tourist sites. A walking Metro would be a great way to encourage walking and would give visitors a sense of how easy it is to get around the city on foot.
I like the simplicity of the map and how it gives times between ‘stops’ on the map. I can see the various lines being named after buildings they pass – The ‘Government Line’ to the Beehive and other buildings, the ‘Te Papa Line’ along the waterfront and the ‘University Line’ covering a route through the university.
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