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At the moment it seems that our cities are mostly built for cars and vehicles, rather than the people that live in them, but we think that needs to change, and there are people out there who are working to make that happen… so how are they doing it?
At the moment it seems that our cities are mostly built for cars and vehicles, rather than the people that live in them, but we think that needs to change, and there are people out there who are working to make that happen… so how are they doing it?

At the moment it seems that our cities are mostly built for cars and vehicles, rather than the people that live in them, but we think that needs to change, and there are people out there who are working to make that happen… so how are they doing it?

1) Designing cities for people: how are we using public areas?

People are the key to data for leveraging change on this topic says urban strategy and sustainable mobility consultant Meredith Glaser. Looking at the way people get around and what their needs are, making different transport options accessible, and honing the human needs for choice are all important. The most valuable thing we can use she says however, is our imagination – how would you make the streets that cater more to people than traffic?

2) Designing cities for people: how do they do it in the Netherlands?

In cycling cities in the Netherlands “daily needs services are within close distances from where people live and work, and the zoning code is flexible enough to allow for uses to change and adapt with the changing needs of a neighbourhood.”

3) Designing cities for people: do we need to make it harder for drivers?

Streets are generally geared towards drivers at the moment, but instead of making them harder for vehicles to use, why don’t we focus on making them easier for cyclists and pedestrians with a safe infrastructure for people and incentives for walking and cycling, which will have the added benefit of calming the traffic and easing congestion (imagine if those cyclists and walkers were also in cars!).

4) Designing cities for people: cycling isn’t new

Designing cities with best practice cycling infrastructures in place is not a new idea – after all they were designed for people for 7,000 years! So the good news is that we actually already know how to do it, it’s just a question of making it happen. However, sustainable mobility consultant Meredith Glaser suggests that the best way to test out ideas is to put pilot, pop up and demonstration projects in place. For example, she says that “plastic posts or planter boxes can create temporary protected bike lanes or sidewalk extensions.”

5) Designing cities for people: get involved

The real key to making cities more people friendly is to get more people out there using them in a different way. If you cycle or run or walk to work then you’re already making that happen, so encourage friends to join you and enjoy the process – it’s that enjoyment and getting something positive from the experience that’s going to encourage other people to want to do the same, thereby creating more need for people-friendly streets. It’s a bit chicken and egg.

6) Designing cities for people: use engineers who cycle

To understand how a cyclist or runner experiences the roads, you really need to run or cycle. In the Netherlands, where cycling is an everyday form of transportation, engineers are also bicycling so they experience their work on a daily basis, so they design with a comprehensive understanding of the experience in mind, and that’s the reason they are getting the design right – they get it!

7) Designing cities for people: the best cities for cycling

While London plays catch up, some cities are already designing with people in mind and they’re doing it with great results. Top of the list include Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Strasboug and Berlin all at the top. We won’t mention where London came…

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