The help it needs is not making it wider so cars can speed through from not here to not there, but making it narrower, so people on foot can cross from shops on one side to shops on the other. In other words, it should be moved down rather than up the hierarchy of roads. People should be able to cross these streets freely and without fear. McEvoy should be a destination, not a detour
Read the whole thing, and if you are a New South Welshman, feel free to get in touch to help WalkSydney.org make Sydney a better place.
A panel of experts examine how the burgeoning urban pressures of the 21st century are affecting how we design and occupy our streets, at a public forum on 9 August at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney.
Streets are essential for transporting both people and goods, but they are much more than just thoroughfares. They have their own intrinsic value, serving myriad civic functions, from social interactions to commercial exchange, and from cultural expression to political debate. They are also constantly changing.
For the past month, Foreground has been running a special series examining the street, from green streets that work as a hedge against the effects of climate change, to the effects of changing traffic and mobility patterns on street parking, safety and shared usage, and how encroaching privatisation is challenging its legacy as a civic commons.
As the culmination of this special series, Foreground is convening a public forum of experts with a professional interest in the street to examine how this critical piece of infrastructure might address the burgeoning urban pressures of the 21st century.
Professor David Levinson teaches at the School of Civil Engineering at the University of Sydney, where he leads the Network Design Lab and the Transport Engineering group He is the author of the influential blog The Transportist, and is also an advisor to Sidewalk Labs spinoff Coord, which recently launched a data integration platform for urban mobility.
Dr Nicole Kalms is a founding director of the XYX Lab at Monash University, which leads national research in space, gender and communication. Her recent book Hypersexual City (Routledge 2017) examines sexualized representation in neoliberal cities.
Libby Gallagher is a registered landscape architect with over 20 years of professional experience on a range of public, mixed use and private projects in Australia and overseas. Recent award-winning projects include the Quality of Landscape Study for the City of Sydney and the Cool Streets Pilot Project for Blacktown Council.
Andrew Mackenzie (moderator) is a co-founder and co-editor of Foreground. Andrew has been a writer, curator, editor and publisher on art, design and architecture for over 20 years. He writes for various journals and newspapers and is a co-director at Uro Publications, and independent Australian publisher of books on architecture and design.
The Right-Of-Way When Using Crosswalks: Motorists failing to yield the right-of-way at crosswalks is the No. 1 dangerous behavior contributing to fatal traffic crashes in San Francisco. Motorists “shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.” Motorists must always stop for pedestrians crossing at streets corners, with or without traffic signal lights and whether or not the crosswalk is marked by painted lines. Further, even if the marked crosswalk is the middle of the block, motorists must stop for pedestrians.
The Right To Unimpeded Use Of A Crosswalk: A crosswalk is the part of the roadway set aside for pedestrian traffic. Motorists and bicyclists must stop behind the line at traffic signals and stop signs.
The Right Not To Be Struck By A Speeding Vehicle: Motorists traveling at an unsafe speed is the second most dangerous behavior contributing to fatal traffic crashes in San Francisco. Speeding increases stopping distance and collision force. When a person is hit by a vehicle traveling at 20 miles per hour, there is a 90 percent chance of survival. The survival rate drops to 20 percent if a person is hit by a vehicle traveling at 40 miles per hour. Motorists approaching a pedestrian “within any marked or unmarked crosswalk shall exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of the vehicle or take any other action relating to the operation of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian.”
The Right Not To Be Struck In The Roadway: While pedestrians should not jaywalk and always use crosswalks to cross a roadway, even if the pedestrian is within a portion of the roadway other than a crosswalk motorists must slow down. Motorists are under the duty “exercise due care for the safety of any pedestrian” no matter where the pedestrian is on the roadway. This rule also applies to bicyclists because, as a rule, bicyclists have the same duties and responsibilities as motorists.
The Right To Unimpeded Use Of Sidewalks: Adult bicyclists, and even teenage bicyclists, are prohibited from riding on sidewalks in most California cities. In San Francisco, it is illegal to bike on a sidewalk if the bicyclist is 13 years of age or older. Of course, bicyclists can dismount and walk their bike on sidewalk. At that point, they are pedestrians under the law.
1. When traffic laws say pedestrians have the right of way, that shouldn’t just mean that if you’re hit by a car, it’s not your fault. People on foot shouldn’t have to fear, evade, negotiate or maneuver around cars, whether moving or parked, just because planners routinely put the convenience of people inside vehicles far above that of people using their own two feet.
2. No pedestrian should ever find that the only way to reach that store or office on foot is to cross a huge desert of asphalt, with moving cars threatening on all sides. Any parking area with more than two rows of stalls should be required to have a pedestrian walkway running down the strip where cars usually face off nose-to-nose. If these walkways reduce the space available for parking cars, well, boo hoo. Cars already take up 20 times as much space as a person does. Enough is enough.
3. No pedestrian should ever be expected to cross more than four lanes of traffic, whether or not there are crossing signals present. The vast six- and even eight-lane boulevards that are being imposed on more and more of our suburbs tear neighborhoods apart and form virtual Grand Canyons to people on foot.
Once and for all, planners should shake the wrongheaded belief that the way to fix traffic congestion is to make roads wider. This is like telling a 400-pound man with a heart condition that what he really needs is some bigger pants. The wider we make our roads, the more traffic will arrive to fill them up, and the more impassable our cities will become to people on foot.
4. In dense urban areas, pedestrians should be free to shop, stroll or sightsee without constant threat of assault by cars, buses or taxis. Hence, planners should provide centralized public parking at the fringe of city cores, offer a shuttle service and make downtown blocks pedestrian-only zones. Sedentary car jockeys would benefit from having to walk a few steps to get where they’re going, and the rest of us would be blessed with a quieter, greener and less-polluted city.
5. Lastly, American planners should recognize that, in relative terms, cars are a mere fleeting speck of technology, like the chariot, the man-of-war and the steam locomotive. We bipeds, on the other hand, are hopefully here for the long run. It’s just plain dumb to continue building an entire nation around a machine that’ll likely be obsolete in 50 years — especially considering that, no matter what takes its place, we’ll always want to get around on our own two feet.
Walking is the most widespread mode of travel, and much of it occurs on footpaths, among the least technologically sophisticated elements of the transport world. Nevertheless, footpaths are far from immune to the technological disruption already besetting transport infrastructure in cities around the world. In the future, footpaths may remain physically similar, made of asphalt, concrete, or brick, but how they are used, and what we know about how they are used, will change – if change isn’t already afoot.
Start with the kerb, the edge of the footpath and the street itself. Kerb space is an extremely valuable asset. …
Pedestrians have the right to safely and conveniently walk along and cross any public right-of-way without regards to who they are, with whom they are associating, when or why they are traveling, or where they are coming from or going to. #NoPoliceStops
In the event of a conflict with vehicles, pedestrians automatically have the right-of-way. Where no dedicated footpaths are available, any pedestrians have the right-of-way over any other traffic and speeds shall be limited to that traveled by those pedestrians. Pedestrians shall never be required to give way to self-driving vehicles. #Right-of-Way #Footpaths #SharedSpace #StopForNoBot
Any pedestrian may cross roads at any point at any time where they will endanger neither themselves nor others by doing so. #JaywalkingIsNotACrime.
In the event of a collision with a pedestrian, the controller of the vehicle is always liable. #TheCarIsAlwaysWrong
The space on a right-of-way allocated per pedestrian shall be no less than space allocated per traveler by vehicle. #SpatialEquity
Any place accessible by vehicle must remain accessible to pedestrians on a route no less direct. In the event of blockage due to weather or other causes, pedestrian paths shall be cleared before vehicle paths. #SnowPriority #AccessEquity #Connectivity #MinimizeCircuity
Speed limits on streets shall be established both to minimize total pedestrian collisions and to minimize total injury and loss of life in the event of a collision. #SlowTraffic
Every intersection of two, or more, rights-of-way contains crosswalks. There is a crosswalk on every side of every intersection. Such crosswalks must remain unimpeded when pedestrians have right-of-way. #EveryIntersectionIsACrosswalk
All at-grade road crossings shall be at the elevation of the pedestrian way. #BowToNoCar
Every traffic signal shall have automatic pedestrian phases that allot at least as much green (“walk”) time for pedestrians as is allotted to vehicles, and is long enough to ensure pedestrians safe passage. At least one such phase per cycle shall ensure pedestrians may cross diagonally unimpeded by vehicles. #EndSignalInequity
All pedestrian routes shall be designed such that wheelchairs may pass at all times. No temporary or permanent signs or utility posts or parked vehicles or other temporary or permanent street furniture shall obstruct this minimum passage width. #FreePassage #Inclusion
Previous or current rate of use must not be used to determine future use, or proposed infrastructure. #HistoryIsNotDeterminative
Should traffic levels, the built environment, and topography topology warrant, paths for pedestrians may be grade separated when that is safer and more convenient for pedestrians. #KeepThemSeparated
The air quality for pedestrians along roads shall be no more dangerous to health than the level experienced in the absence of vehicles, and the noise level experienced by pedestrians along roads shall be no louder than the level that would be experienced in the absence of vehicles. #NoNoise #NoEmissions #EVs.
Pedestrian paths shall be buffered from high-speed vehicles. Footpaths and the adjacent environment shall be designed to bring joy rather than dread to the act of walking. #WalkingIsAGood #Verges
Definition: A pedestrian is a person traveling by foot and is inclusive of those using assistive devices.
Definition: A vehicle includes any road-worthy vehicle including car, truck, bus, and bicycle capable of traveling at speeds faster than a pedestrian could sustain, and includes electric or motorized vehicles, excluding assistive devices traveling at pedestrian speeds.
This was compiled with input from the Twitter community in response to a request, and most of these ideas were identified by others. It is aimed to advance pedestrian rights and design environments that encourage walking and improve safety and public health.
So the moral question: should we change our planning for pedestrians to ensure safety from a crazy person in a van, terrorists, drunk drivers, just incapacitated drivers. This is not the first, and will not be the last, time a driver plows down pedestrians. By doing so we show weakness to terrorists? Are we converting the outdoors to a Zoo placing pedestrians in cages. Should the woonerf, for example, be like an open zoo.
It’s a moral and ethical question how much separation should we have in an era when crazy people uses cars as weapons to kill random humans. How many incidents and deaths will it take to change the approach for pedestrian environments to make it as safe as air travel. If we add more small obstacles, how much will they spoil the pedestrian environment and sense of freedom.
The crazy person in a van problem is only going to get worse with automation and especially connectivity, a remote control car bomb is even easier than a suicide.
In my view, cars should be in the cages, the people should be free. And then the cages need to be made smaller and smaller.
All urban streets in heavily pedestrian trafficked areas should have bollards or equivalent to keep the cars away from the people. Woonerfs are fine for residential streets, and if people want to encroach on shared space that is also fine, but cars should not encroach on people space. Just as we don’t let cars in most buildings, there should be outdoor public spaces where they are also prohibited.
We don’t need fences or chains like in the photo of Egypt, just lots of posts (trees, bike racks, benches, bus stops, street furniture, planters etc.) that make it impossible for a car to run down the sidewalk or into buildings. This furniture of course should not interfere with the free flowing movement of people, and might require taking lanes from the storage, or even movement, of cars. As with all good urban design, examples of this are in Delft, with some lowerable Bollards to allow service, emergency, and freight vehicles in when needed.
This investigation aims to evaluate whether the Safety in Numbers phenomenon is observable in the midwestern U.S. city of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Safety in Numbers (SIN) refers to the phenomenon that pedestrian safety is positively correlated with increased pedestrian traffic in a given area. Walking and bicycling are increasingly becoming important transportation modes in modern cities. Proper placement of non-motorized facilities and improvements has implications for safety, accessibility, and mode choice, but proper information regarding estimated non-motorized traffic levels is needed to locate areas where investments can have the greatest impact. Assessment of collision risk between automobiles and non-motorized travelers offers a tool that can help inform investments to improve non-motorized traveler safety. Models of non-motorized crash risk typically require detailed historical multimodal crash and traffic volume data, but many cities do not have dense datasets of non-motorized transport flow levels. Methods of estimating pedestrian and bicycle behavior that do not rely heavily on high-resolution count data are applied in this study. Pedestrian and cyclist traffic counts, average automobile traffic, and crash data from the city of Minneapolis are used to build models of crash frequencies at the intersection level as a function of modal traffic inputs. These models determine whether the SIN effect is observable within the available datasets for pedestrians, cyclists, and cars, as well as determine specific locations within Minneapolis where non-motorized travelers experience elevated levels of risk of crashes with automobiles.
I am a pedestrian in Sydney, living in a car-less household, so I have had a few months experience in the pedestrian environment. As nice as walking in Sydney is, walking in Sydney should be nicer. For a city with such high densities of people and shops, such a large number of parks, doors on the street, and gorgeous weather, and such terrible internet service driving people from their homes, walking should be the dominant mode. Yet there are barriers to living the motor-free lifestyle here (and undoubtedly elsewhere). Some that come to mind.
T-Intersections Intentionally missing crosswalk markings (and pedestrian signals) are quite common, especially at T-intersections, where pedestrians might only have markings and a signal on one side. While this undoubtedly makes cars go faster (the presumed purpose for this), it makes the walker’s life more miserable, reducing choice and potentially adding travel time. For longer distance trips, backtracking can be avoided by crossing upstream where the signal is available. For short distance trips, this is inefficient. The largest T-intersection I have encountered where this is an issue is City Road at Broadway, where to get from the east side of City Road to the north side of Broadway (which houses a nice shopping mall) requires crossing both streets instead of just one.
Fences. Walking midblock is strongly discouraged on some roads. Presumably for safety and for traffic flow, but still creating a chaffingly regulated environment for the pedestrian who wants to cross the shopping street.
OBEY Pedestrians must obey traffic signals or risk getting run over. While almost all of the Pedestrian Actuation (Beg) Buttons work, the phasing of traffic signals is so chaotic as to be nearly unpredictable as to when the pedestrian has right-of-way without a light. The pedestrian phase is extremely, needlessly short, just enough for pedestrians already at the corner when the light changes to make it across on the green walking man, not enough for someone not there, even when the car phases would make it safe for pedestrians to cross. Drivers only look at traffic lights, not for context, so if you are in the crosswalk (marked or otherwise) you will very much risk getting hit (or at least the ire of the driver) if you do not have a green walking man providing moral and legal support. In many cases these are absurd.
Traffic can flow freely now because drivers can credibly threaten murder. AVs won’t be able to make that threat.
For instance the figure at Thai Tha Hai restaurant.
Uneven sidewalks. For a variety of reasons, most sidewalks appear original, although wheelchair curb-cuts have been retrofitted in most places. While roads are periodically resurfaced, the sidewalks, which were likely fairly even when first poured, have unevened with the heave and ho due to poor construction, changing soil conditions, trees, recent construction and the like. Except for the few sidewalks that have been shaved, this leads to tripping hazards. While these hazards are easily identified (send out some interns), it won’t be solved unless someone develops a multi-million dollar robot to ride all the Sydney sidewalks and provide a report, with a large construction contract on the other end.
Shared paths. Many sidewalks are marked as shared paths with bicycles. This isn’t as much of a problem for the pedestrian as it might seem, since so few people bike. That is a problem for other reasons.
Much of the network is circuitous (see ,,), missing links abound. I previously noted the lack of railway crossings, but there are other issues on the street network. I haven’t tested whether this is especially bad here compared to other places, but subjectively it is noticeable. So for instance my trip from home to work more or less as shown in the image could be much straighter than it is, were there a southern/western crossing of the tracks at Redfern station.
Crowding. While pedestrian crowding is not common on most sections of sidewalk, there are times are places where this is a problem. (In the map, the path to and from Redfern Station gets crowded at peak times). Crowding is a problem for several reasons. Pedestrian speeds are slowed to the speed of the slowest traveler, so overtaking is required. The sidewalks are narrow in place, worse on trash collection days, when the rubbish and recycling bins are out. The crowding is especially a shame given the use of space to store empty cars on streets, space that could be reclaimed for more productive human movement.
Navigability. While soon our Augmented Reality glasses may make navigation an irrelevancy, in the meantime, I often try to figure out where I am. This requires looking at my phone because there are not street signs visible to pedestrians. The signs are aimed for autos, and on one-way streets for cars (which are still two-way streets for pedestrians), the signs all face the direction the autos are moving.
Fumes and Noise. Cars and especially trucks and buses produce fumes and noise and other externalities that increase the unpleasantness of walking and lower the pedestrian’s expected lifespan. While electrification will eventually do away with both fumes and noise, trucks will be the last surface vehicles to electrify, so this will likely be a feature on the roads for decades. Given the rate of construction in Sydney, many of these are especially large, loud, and polluting construction-related vehicles.
All of that said, there are plenty of nice parts. Some of the best features of walking in Sydney are below:
There are some pedestrian only streets (e.g. Kensington, shown)
There is a lot of traffic calming within shopping streets and neighborhoods. (The effect of the traffic calming is to push more traffic to the signalized arterials, where it is controlled, but now more congested than it otherwise would be.)
Drivers almost always obey the marked crosswalks if a pedestrian is waiting to cross (though what constitutes ‘waiting to cross’ is a bit ambiguous). (They will not yield at unmarked crosswalks unless the pedestrian is in the street, and even then only reluctantly and with ire.)