A framework for research on pedestrian streets in America

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Joseph Kott


Sustainable cities require sustainable streets, placemaking, and pedestrian- focused urban planning. Americans who visit Europe are often struck by the many vibrant pedestrian precincts and pedestrian friendly streets across the Atlantic. People walk these streets for utilitarian purposes or just to experience street liveliness. Healthful walking is integrated into their daily lives. Why aren’t there more pedestrian oriented streets and precincts in the United States? What has made some pedestrian streets around the country not only endure but prosper? On the other hand, why have so pedestrian malls been re-opened to auto traffic? From the late 1950s through the late 1970s main streets across the United States were closed to automobile traffic in an attempt to compete with the emerging regional shopping centers. For the most part they failed and were eventually re-opened to automobile traffic. Other pedestrianized streets have been notably successful. Why? This article reviews the prospects for pedestrianized streets in the US, discusses factors that may have contributed to their success or failure, and outlines a program of rigorous research needed on success and failure factors for these streets. The aim is to advance understanding of this important part of a more sustainable street ecosystem so as to inform contemporary US urban planning policy


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KottJ. (2017). A framework for research on pedestrian streets in America. UPLanD - Journal of Urban Planning, Landscape & Environmental Design, 2(2), 319-324. https://doi.org/10.6093/2531-9906/5271


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