Site Design and Pedestrian Travel
Research findings are summarized regarding the relationship between site design and pedestrian travel in mixed-use, medium-density environments, and recommendations are set forth for improving pedestrian facilities in suburban neighborhoods. A quasi-experimental method is used to study pedestrian volumes into 12 neighborhood commercial centers in the central Puget Sound region. Sites were matched for population density, land use mix, and income, but they varied in terms of neighborhood site design as measured by block size, and by the length and completeness of sidewalk systems. Urban sites with small blocks and extensive sidewalk systems were found to have, on average, three times the pedestrian volumes of suburban sites with large blocks and short, incomplete sidewalk systems. There are, however, many suburban pedestrians, with volumes varying between 50 and 103 people per hour walking into the suburban commercial centers studied. The majority of suburban pedestrians use streets with sidewalks where available. Also, suburban pedestrians are more likely both to jaywalk and to use crosswalks than their urban counterparts. People under age 18 and people of color were overrepresented in suburban pedestrian populations compared with their makeup in the local residential population. These findings point to the importance of providing facilities to improve pedestrian safety for people who cannot or do not want to drive in such areas. Recommendations include completing sidewalk networks, creating walkways to connect all building entrances to public sidewalks, and increasing the opportunities for pedestrians to cross streets safely.