Streetscapes and Walkability
October 28th, 2010, by Jeremy Krygsman
Central Research Question:
Though level 4 had been chosen most often, and its safety was ranked high both during the day and at night, after interpretation of data (both quantitative and qualitative), level 3 is the most recommended alternative, as it is seen to be relatively safe (as seen in figures 3 and 4) and its perception of safety during the night was less scattered than that of level 4 (refer to figure 10). This is important because an area should be walkable (and safe) during both the day and at night. Had it been just for the day, level 4 would have been the recommended alternative, however level 3 seems to provide the level of safety that is comfortable for the widest number participants during both day and at night.
Primary Research Questions:
- How do we implement green spaces in urban environments, and what implications or benefits do they pose on pedestrian reform and livability?
Green spaces can easily be implemented within the urban environment. This is highlighted throughout the statistical test, especially in regards to level 1 vs. level 2. Trees are not necessarily needed in order to have an impact; as has been seen in section 4.1 (quantitative), the mere inclusion of planter boxes and hanging baskets create a moderate impact, as noted by the Cohen‟s D value. Thus, implementation of vegetation is unchallenging. As has been noted within the recommendations, the only limitations to this would be a city‟s budget. Implications and benefits for pedestrians are analyzed in the following section.
- What factors contribute to the creation of green spaces, and what economic tradeoffs are present in the creation of these spaces in urban environments?
Aesthetic appeal and inclusion of vegetation may increase economical viability as greenery promotes walkability as has been proven throughout this report. Perhaps these levels of greenery could be used as methods for downtown revitalization, though participants would have to include storeowners and vendors, as well as customers. As has been mentioned previously in the literature section 2.0, the inclusion of vegetation may also create a stronger social fabric, creating other spin off effects such as the enrichment of community identity. Other tradeoffs of including vegetation within urban environments are related to health. As green spaces do promote walkability, then perhaps a decrease in health risks, such as obesity and heart disease will occur.
Secondary Research Questions:
- How will the inclusion of green spaces impact the livability and health of the community?
The health of a community may benefit through the implementation of greenery, especially if walkability is increased. If walkability is promoted, the livability of a streetscape will also increase, as social activity is dependent on the presence of people. In terms of health, walkability would decrease health related problems as it is a form of . Exercise
- What elements at both large and small scales can be implemented to achieve a greener community?
As has been presented in table 9, the Cohen‟s D values indicate that transforming an area of level 1 into a level 2 has a moderate impact. Thus on smaller scales, the implementation of box planters and hanging baskets will achieve a greener and more walkable community through these relatively small inclusions of vegetation. On larger scales, levels such as level 3 and level 4 could be implemented (however there may be limitations to a city‟s budget). Other implementation methods would be city policies and community involvement.
- How will green environments improve walkability, and reduce the dependency of the automobile?
By proving that vegetation promotes walkability within communities, it may decrease the use of the automobile, especially if this type of environment fosters social cohesion. Thus, instead of using the automobile to travel from point A to point B, several benefits related to health and sociability, can be obtained through walking and other modes of sustainable transportation.
Based on the findings of the report, the following recommendations can be made:
- Recommendation: Since a strong impact is made by transforming level 1 to level 3, and safety remains moderately strong during both the day and at night, cities with a limited budget can achieve the same impact with a lesser amount of vegetation, and thus use a financially feasible option while providing an aesthetically pleasing environment. If cities are extremely limited, the simple inclusion of planter boxes and hanging baskets also holds a moderate impact, as shown in table 9 with the Cohen‟s D values.
- Recommendation: Respondents indicated compression of space between trees. When planning a green and more walkable space it is important to create a buffer for pedestrians from traffic however, foliage should be controlled so that there are no limitations to sightlines at night. Thus, trees must be placed strategically.
- Recommendation: Some respondents indicated a threat to safety for women and children as vegetation increased during both day and night. Flower beds and trees may pose threats to this safety, and medium trees, hanging baskets, and lampposts provide greenery but do not impede on safety.
- Recommendation: Public consultations could be conducted to evaluate the effect and amount of greenery in a streetscape. Giving citizens the option to express their concerns in street design would be beneficial to the public interest and optimize the level of safety for all demographics.
- Recommendations: Utilize computer visualizations as they act as a useful tool that can visually illustrate ideas that lead towards useful responses and measurements.