NYC Streets Photo: Steven Pisano/Flickr

Listen up, city planners: if you want to increase pedestrian traffic on your streets, there are a few features that should be implemented.

A new article appearing in the Journal of Planning Education and Research identifies common elements of the streets that are most frequented by New York City pedestrians.

The authors took note of streetscape features and other variables for 588 blocks in New York City. The factors included historic buildings, courtyards/plazas/parks, proximity to outdoor dining, building footprint, noise, landscaping, street furniture, proximity to retail, building colors and public art.

Researchers found links between three of the measured streetscape features and pedestrian counts — even after controlling for density and other environmental variables:

  1. Street Furniture – Access to street furniture was found to be associated with more pedestrian activity. This category includes signs, benches, parking meters, trash cans, newspaper boxes, bollards, street lights — anything that creates more of a dynamic atmosphere. Urban furniture and seating in particular is a powerful way to activate public spaces.
  1. Percentage of Active Uses – Researchers defined this factor as shops, restaurants and public parks along the streetscape. Inactive uses include blank walls, driveways, parking lots, vacant lots, abandoned buildings, and offices with no apparent activity. Unsurprisingly, more attractions in an area means more foot traffic.
  1. Ground Floor Windows – One surprising finding from the study was the number of ground floor windows on the more frequented streetscapes. This could be partially attributed to a sense of openness that inspires pedestrians to explore the area around them. Ground floor windows are also associated with retail activities.

The article’s authors, Reid Ewing, Amir Hajrasouliha, Kathryn M. Neckerman, Marnie Purciel-Hill and William Greene, are scholars and researchers from various universities and organizations including the Human Impact Partners, Columbia University and the University of Utah. They hope that their work helps to inspire urban planners to create more pedestrian-friendly streets.

Follow @bbhnyc for the latest on public planning research.

H/T: City Lab 

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