Pedestrian Areas & Routes

This measure was fully updated by THE ASSOCIATION FOR URBAN TRANSITION - ATU in 2014 under the CH4LLENGE project, financed by the European Commission.

People need to walk. Walking is the mode that is always used as part of any journey whether they are car based trips or otherwise. Hence provision of pedestrian routes should be of importance to planners. However, the quality of pedestrians’ experience can vary significantly. The impact of this experience may determine their future decisions to either walk or choose another mode of transport.

Practitioners need to understand how to improve the management of the interrelation between public space, transport network and social, legal and political context in order to influence pedestrian behaviour and to provide safe and attractive pedestrian areas. Creating good urban spaces requires knowledge of the walking characteristics and pedestrians’ needs, abilities and desires.

This includes ensuring that provisions are made in the design for target groups with special needs: disabled people, elderly and children. The proportion of senior citizens will increase in the coming years. Due to the overall qualitative change of the modern society lifestyle, more and more senior citizens want to remain active and to be involved in social and other type of events which increase their demands on mobility. Planners and policy makers have to take this into consideration. Furthermore, children are not familiar with traffic rules and are simply not able to cope with complex traffic situations.  This turns them into a very vulnerable group of pedestrians.

To accommodate pedestrians’ needs, route planning must be combined with place making. The quality of the street scene is particularly important for pedestrians and is associated with higher walking levels. Providing walking is never enough: walking warrants open spaces that inspire and encourage communication. Integration is a particularly key to the overall success of pedestrianisation strategies. The Pedestrianisation Policy should also be directed by a Town Centre Management Vision (IHT, 1997) which sets forth the objectives of the strategy and complemented by alternative measures to enhance its effectiveness without compromising economic growth.

In the case of pedestrian routes, there should be amenities easily accessible on foot so that pedestrians are encouraged to utilise them. Experience to date also suggests that pedestrianisation schemes are often opposed initially by retailers and businesses. Hence it is vital that their support is gathered at the earliest opportunity. Sandahl and Lindh (1995) point out that an increase in retail turnover is common when pedestrianisation is combined with good design and sufficient parking facilities. They provide evidence to demonstrate that town centre pedestrianisation and improved accessibility contribute to increasing rent potential and location attractiveness.


Walking could be defined as the most fundamental form of mobility. It is the mode that is always used as part of any journey whether it is a vehicle-based trip or otherwise. It is such an omnipresent activity that it is often not regarded as a transport mode at all. However, even in highly motorised societies, it is an important component of almost all trips and in most places it still remains an important mode in its own right. Walking mostly takes place within a transport system that must work for a variety of road users.

A pedestrian is any person who is travelling by walking for at least part of his or her journey. In addition to the ordinary form of walking, a pedestrian may be using various modifications and aids to walking such as wheelchairs, motorized scooters, walkers, canes, skateboards, and roller blades. The person may carry items of varying quantities, held in hands, strapped on the back, placed on the head, balanced on shoulders, or pushed/pulled along. A person is also considered a pedestrian when running, jogging, hiking, or when sitting or lying down in the roadway (World Health Organisation, 2013).

Pedestrianisation is a traffic limitation policy that is intended to reduce the adverse environmental and safety effects of vehicles, to reclaim space for pedestrians and non-traffic activities, and, more fundamentally, to improve the urban environment as a place in which to live (Brambilla and Longo 1977; Hass-Klau, 1997; Yuen and Chor, 1998).

Pedestrian routes extend the concept of pedestrian areas to networks in which pedestrians have a dedicated right of way.  In urban areas they are typically provided by a combination of footways (sidewalks) beside carriageways and dedicated crossing points.  One specific example is the designation of pedestrian routes to schools, which are sometimes reinforced by the use of “walking buses” (Kingham and Usher, 2005). However, it is relatively uncommon for these to be planned and signed as a network.  Pedestrian routes can also be shared with other users, most commonly with cyclists.  

Walkability describes the extent to which the built environment is walking-friendly. It is a useful way to assess the characteristics of an area or a route. It may be determined by its material design, but what motivates a pedestrian to walk is the atmosphere, the quality that speaks to the senses, stimulating emotion and exchange (PQN Final report, 2010).

Design of Pedestrian Areas

Design and planning archetypes for urban public spaces appear to have changed in a number of cities. There is quite a shift towards providing more spaces for people in the city centres.

To accommodate pedestrians’ needs, route-planning must be combined with place-making, meaning that provisions for linear movements (‘links’) are just as important as places for people to stay (‘place’) (Alves, Sauter, 2010).

Given the diversity of pedestrians, scheme designs should consider a wide range of user needs, including the needs of children, those who need mobility support and senior citizens. This type of approach removes access barriers for those with special needs, and ensures pleasant, convenient routes that are beneficial for all pedestrians. Successful public spaces pay dividends for cities, building civic pride, increasing tourism and economic investment, and contributing to health and quality of life (Harnik, 2003). In addition public spaces share a significant role in city planning and community socializing (Pasaogullari and Doratli 2004).

Gehl (1997) divided outdoor life in public spaces into three categories:

  • Necessary activities
  • Optional activities
  • Social activities.

The design of pedestrian areas should be based on encouraging the necessary activities (walking and shopping) as well as the optional and social activities (activities that one chooses to do only if the conditions and place are inviting) and social activities (activities that depend on the presence of other people such as talking, people-watching).

Careful urban design can result in drivers, cyclists and pedestrians modifying their behaviour and can reduce the dominance of motorised traffic. Creating a multi-purpose space when a development is being built eliminates the later need to adjust a road network with disconnected traffic-calming devices. This further contributes to enhancing the walking environment, and can result in areas deliberately created with fewer cars and greater pedestrian activity. We need to ensure that our view of a street is more than just functional. Streets and public spaces should be beautiful, engaging and inspiring. Too often they are boring, repetitive and ugly.

As a general principle, it is important to provide a quality public environment where impediments to walking are only implemented when they are absolutely essential. As part of the design process, legislation designating the area as a pedestrianised zone is usually required. In addition, it will be necessary to provide for servicing (e.g. to shops within the pedestrianised zone) and most importantly to allow for diversions and alternative traffic routes around the pedestrianised zone.

Where other users are permitted to use a pedestrian area, the allocation of space requires careful design.  It can be done by allowing completely free sharing of space that requires clear signing and effective enforcement.

Design of Pedestrian Routes

The overwhelming majority of pedestrian routes cross a mixture of land types. Routes for pedestrians comprise:

  • the road corridor - footpaths and footways along major highways – pedestrians travel along and across roads;
  • routes over land available for public use, such as canal towpaths and river banks and through parks, transport interchanges and car parks;
  • other public places.

The European Union funded project, PROMPT (New Means to PROMote Pedestrian Traffic in cities; PROMPT, 2002) identified six clusters of potential obstacles to walking in a sample of 6 cities across Europe as follows: 

  • Lack of or scarce offer of physical and social space;
  • Lack of equipment and services in outdoor spaces;
  • Interference from motor vehicles;
  • Poor support by and connection to other modes of transport;
  • Poor natural, architectural and psychological features of the environment;
  • Poor environmental performance.

A key finding of the PROMPT study was that reallocation of road space to pedestrians to reduce the interference with motor vehicles is essential as part of the traffic management strategy associated with implementation of a pedestrianisation policy. Road space should be allocated back to non motorised modes such as cycling (Hass-Klau, 1994). In some cases, bicycles can be rented << hyperlink to cycling here >> within the pedestrian zones. This has occurred in many city centres in Europe e.g. Denmark, the Netherlands, Italy.
Yannis et al (2007) point out that “safety is among the most important quality aspects of walking” and suggested actions centred on four core actions that are of importance in improving safety concerns (note that these are also outlined in Pucher and Dijkstra, 2003):

  • Action 1: Management of Vehicle Traffic – include slowing speeds to reduce severity of accidents (see Traffic Management and traffic calming)
  • Action 2: Provision or improvement of pedestrian infrastructure
  • Action 3: Improving user perceptions
  • Action 4: Education and Enforcement.

A structured process is desirable when pedestrians already walk or wish to walk within a deficient road corridor.  A hierarchy of solutions will be helpful to consider:

  • reducing traffic volumes on the adjacent roads;
  • reducing traffic speed on the adjacent road;
  • reallocate space of the road corridor to pedestrians
  • provide direct at-grade crossing treatments;
  • improve pedestrian routes on existing desire lines;
  • provide new pedestrian route alignment and grade separation.

In the COST 358 Pedestrians’ Quality Needs Report (Methorst, Monterde i Bort, Risser, Sauter, Tight and Walker, 2010) a result from the EU project “ASsess and Implementation” (ASI) referred to for instance the fact that experts underestimate the importance for walkers, of different preconditions like:

  • accessibility of public transport stops / urban furniture / time to reach the destination / shops – number, time of opening, activities open during the night / acoustic conditions / number of facilities / interesting views / presence of green elements in the area / presence of people working and living in the area / traffic volume / number of speeds / respect of speed limits / crossing points / accessibility of sidewalk / quality of the street lights / width of sidewalks / efficiency of the garbage collection system /cleanliness of the street /shade / perception of safety and security.

Hence the design issues that should be considered centre around the concept of the 5 Cs as summarised by Tolley (2003). The 5 Cs are “Connected, Comfortable, Convenient, Convivial and Conspicuous" and with it come the following important design questions as follows:

  • Are there places to walk to (i.e. existence of amenities)?
  • Walking along the street (Henson, 2000)
    • Continuity of the path: Are there gaps or obstacles in the sidewalk or path?
    • Capacity: Is the footway wide enough?
    • Comfort: Is the walk pleasant?
  • Crossing the street:
    • Safety, comfort and convenience
    • Is there sufficient queuing space?
    • Delay: Total Crossing time
    • Deviation Required: How far does a pedestrian need to detour to find a safe crossing point?
  • Lighting:
    • Needed to improve personal security in hours of darkness
    • Particularly for women and the elderly.

Design of pedestrian environment concepts

Living streets

The concept of living streets acknowledges that streets should be designed to accommodate living and community interaction. A living street aims to balance the needs of residents, businesses, pedestrians and cyclists with cars, and thereby encourage a better quality of life and a greater range of community and street activity. The concept is most useful for roads without a predominant through traffic function, but can be applied in part to a minor arterial road.

Pedestrian precincts

Pedestrian-only areas created by restricting traffic access or closing roads to traffic, lead to the best possible conditions for pedestrian freedom of movement and road safety. This type of zone could be implemented under different forms:

  • one closed street, dedicated to pedestrian use only;
  • a  pedestrian plaza;
  • a continuous area – several streets and cross streets.

Pedestrian precincts are most beneficial where there is heavy pedestrian activity, retail or mixed development, a high number of pedestrian/vehicle conflicts, and motor traffic can be accommodated elsewhere.

Shared zones

Shared zone is a residential or retail street that has been designed to give priority to residents and pedestrians while significantly reducing the dominance of motorised vehicles. In the United Kingdom, shared zones are called home zones and in The Netherlands they are referred to as a woonerf.

The route is physically constrained for vehicles by landscape, physical structures and tight turning radii, with no delineation between the footpath and roadway, slowing vehicles to very low speeds.

Shared zones are most suitable for streets and compact areas with a low demand for through traffic movement. 
Shared zones are considered more fully under traffic calming.

Design for Pedestrian Movement

The concept of footway capacity is formalised in the Level Of Service (LOS) concept for walkways (Fruin 1971). The main question for designers in this case would be whether the route is sufficient to cope with an expected flow of pedestrians and under what circumstances pedestrians would feel that their personal space is being “invaded” by others.

When designing and planning urban environments, it is essential to analyse the mobility options for pedestrians. A pedestrian network must be simultaneously created in cities with the road network and with the same priority.

Well designed footpaths encourage walking and reduce the risk of crashes. Most footpaths within the road reserve lie between the edge of the roadway and the frontage of adjacent private property. There are four distinct zones within this area.

  1. kerb zone – defines the limit of the pedestrian environment, blocking vehicles from using the footpath. It also represents a major tangible signal for the vision-impaired pedestrians.
  2. street furniture zone – is used for placing different features like promotional boards, seats, parking meters, lighting columns. It is quite important since it creates a psychological buffer between between the pedestrians and the motorised vehicles.
  3. through route – the area where pedestrians normally choose to travel;
  4. frontage zone – the area containing fences, walls, “window shoppers, overhanging vegetation. It is an area where pedestrians normally choose not to use.

It is important to distinguish between the total width and the width of the zone likely to be used by pedestrians considering the above-mentioned zones.

Design of Crossing Facilities

Safety is important for the pedestrian when crossing roads. When designing or improving the pedestrian facilities to cross roads, four main reasons must lie at the bottom of this decision:

  • Level of service - the number of crossings;
  • Safety;
  • Specific access provision, for a specific target group;
  • Integration – as part of an integrated management plan for the area.

Crossing facilities generally divide into three categories:

  • Physical aids – These type of interventions reduce the crossing distance and the amount of traffic the pedestrian has to negotiate with at each stage. The crossing distance can be reduced through kerb extensions, medians and pedestrian islands.
  • Time separated/priority control - Pedestrian priority and signal control should only be considered after providing the best combination of physical aids for the site. Adding the control will provide benefits to pedestrians, but will typically result in a greater total delay to motor vehicle occupants than the total time saved by pedestrians.
  • Spatially separated facilities - Although spatially separated facilities can eliminate conflict with vehicles for pedestrians who use the facility, and minimise crossing delay, they can increase pedestrians’ travel time due to the requirement to change level or other detours.

Design for Disabilities

Good design that assists pedestrians can go a long way to satisfying the needs of those with disabilities. However, when special needs are met (such as providing for the visually impaired) the general population benefits as well. For the visually impaired, people in wheelchairs, and for the elderly, the location of street furniture can be an obstacle to walking. However the provision of benches, rest areas and shelters is appreciated by all. To encourage use by disabled persons, such routes should also be sufficiently wide for wheelchairs.  IHT (1986, 1989, 2000) are useful references for this design aspect.

Safe Routes to School

Journeys to school are of key safety importance. Making pedestrian routes to school safer can also help increase the number of walking trips.

The main issue is to encouraging more walking and cycling to school, less car travel and a reduction in congestion near the school gate. All school-based programmes aim to improve safety and remove institutional, physical and attitudinal barriers to walking (and cycling) to and from school.

They typically involve improving and/or installing:

  • road crossing facilities / vehicle speed-reduction devices / pedestrian and cycle paths / road markings / signs to warn drivers of the presence of children / lighting / traffic management measures.

Other Elements of Design

Landscaping can create an attractive visual environment and a ‘buffer’ between the footpath and the roadway. It creates the appearance of a narrower road and can encourage drivers to travel more slowly. It adds value to the aesthetics of the walking environment but it must be placed carefully since high shrubs and trees might also obscure from view (of drivers) the presence of vulnerable road users such as children (O’Flaherty, 1997; IHT, 1997). However, strategically located trees and greenery can be used instead of bollards to act as a marking for the entrance to the pedestrian area. 

Surfaces - All surfaces on which pedestrians walk should be firm, stable and slip resistant even when wet. High quality and distinctive environments, achieved by installing different footpath surfaces, are of increasing importance. Vision impaired pedestrians often use differences in texture, contrast and colour as a way-finding prompt, so material standardisation and consistency are important.

Street furniture - The footpath is the main location for street furniture. Some furniture is designed as a benefit for pedestrians and enhance the walking environment, while other furniture is provided mainly for other road users. Furniture can create a visually interesting environment for pedestrians and encourage greater use of the street as a public space.

Pedestrians and Public Transport - Walking is irrevocably connected to all public transport journeys, therefore, providing good pedestrian access is an essential requirement for public transport to become a realistic alternative to car travel. This involves providing good quality pedestrian links to, and good pedestrian facilities at stops, stations and interchanges. It involves accessible, safe and comfortable transport stops.

A few principles for pedestrian access to public transport need to be established: location of public transport stops/stations, location and form of pedestrian crossings to maximise the convenience of arriving quickly at bus stops, adequate and comfortable waiting space in PT stops.

Walking cannot be promoted independently from Public Transport. Residents who use public transport tend to walk more than those who use other transport modes.

Pedestrian signage - A planned and cohesive strategy for pedestrian signage should be implemented.
Signage strategies should be based on locating signs at the ‘decision points’ on the pedestrian network. Signs should only be installed where they fulfill a need based on pedestrians’ expectations, like outside the roadway owing to pedestrian route flexibility and diversity.

Lighting - Lighting has several purposes for pedestrians:

  • illuminates potential hazards so pedestrians can avoid them;
  • enables pedestrians to read signs and orient themselves;
  • affects feelings of personal security and comfort;
  • enables drivers to see pedestrians and thereby improves their safety;
  • can enhance the walking environment;
  • makes the pedestrian network continuously available, not just during daylight hours;
  • can encourage pedestrians to use some routes rather than others.

Street lighting is not always adequate for pedestrians on footpaths within road reserves - walking conditions can change and the initial scheme may have been inadequate.

Why introduce pedestrian areas and routes?

Walking is an essential element of life. With the current emphasis on urban renewal and regeneration, pedestrianisation schemes are intended to focus support on urban revitalisation, as well as inducing longer term behavioural change (especially in the case of pedestrianised routes) by reclaiming back the streets from the cars. Today, walking is comonly restricted by obstacles and hostile conditions, and consequently the health and safety of those who continue to choose to walk are threatened through an increased risk. The desire to remove conflicting traffic from the roads has further invigorated efforts aimed at understanding and promoting walking (as well as cycling) as a mode of transport (IHT, 1997). With regard to pedestrian routes, the objectives of this are generally to support and encourage reductions in car use to help tackle Climate Change, and improve social inclusion by allowing those without access to a car, the ability to access destinations in a safe manner.

Encouraging walking can therefore also form part of the social agenda for improving the quality of life of the population and in planned ways needs to become a specific policy objective.. On the same theme of health, sustainable mobility (e.g. Banister, 2008) (including modes such as walking and cycling) offers improvements in individual health as well as a cleaner and healthier environment (Woodcock et al, 2007). This recognition has therefore spurred current efforts to reallocate road space from vehicles to pedestrians (and cyclists).

More generally, separate provision for pedestrians reduces their risk of accidents, and their exposure to local pollution (IHT, 1997).

Finally, it is argued (Tolley, 2003) that public transport services rely on a supportive walking environment. The location of stops, the quality of waiting places and the safety of passengers at their stops and on their journeys to/from stops are important. Increasing public transport use benefits all the transport objectives highlighted above.

Demand impacts

Responses and situations
Response Impact on vehicle kilometres by car Expected in situations
This is unlikely to occur, except in the case of time-limited deliveries.
/ Pedestrians are likely to be encouraged to use improved areas and routes. Vehicles will have to re-route to bypass pedestrian areas.
/ Car users might find the city centre inaccessible by car and hence visit alternative retail and leisure facilities. This is the argument for retailers sometimes opposing pedestrianisation schemes. However, the evidence seems to suggest that pedestrianisation makes the city centre more attractive to car users (who will also need to walk anyway). Additionally good quality pedestrian routes can link inner suburbs to city centres in general and other destinations throughout the city could prompt more use of those places (and walking to them), i.e., changes in destination that reduce car kms.
Yes, if the pedestrian routes provide enhanced access to amenities on foot.
Yes if pedestrian routes improve catchment to the public transport network.
This is unlikely to occur.
Pedestrian areas which include residential accommodation can prove popular places to live.
= Weakest possible response = Strongest possible positive response
= Weakest possible negative response = Strongest possible negative response
= No response

Short and long run demand responses

Demand responses
Response - 1st year 2-4 years 5 years 10+ years
  - - - - -
= Weakest possible response = Strongest possible positive response
= Weakest possible negative response = Strongest possible negative response
= No response

Supply impacts

The supply of road space will be reduced as part of a pedestrianisation strategy for a city centre. In the case of pedestrian routes, road space might be reduced and reallocated to vulnerable road users (e.g. pedestrians/cyclists and wheelchair users) to allow them to utilise the wider pavements. To encourage use of the pedestrian areas and routes and reduce feelings amongst pedestrians of vulnerability, a carefully devised traffic management strategy would account for the reduction in road space and provide suitable diversion routes around the pedestrianised area. 

Financing requirements

While the simple process of removing traffic is relatively inexpensive, high quality pedestrianisation can be expensive to implement. It is acknowledged that financial, technical and political factors may affect what can be achieved at any particular location or time.

The cost will vary depending on the associated facilities provided and the engineering specifications of the design. The use of high quality materials and the provision of landscaping will add to the cost.  Maintenance of the surfaces, furniture and landscaping will impose a significant continuing cost.

Expected impact on key policy objectives

Contribution to objectives


Scale of contribution


  Traffic will be diverted to other routes, adding to travel time and potentially congestion.  This is unlikely to be offset by any reduction in traffic resulting from modal change.
  By reducing community severance and encouraging intermingling of social activities.
  / The local environment will be improved.  Pollution may increase on diversion routes, but these will typically have fewer people at risk.
  By encouraging walking and providing access for those without cars.
  By removing conflicts between pedestrians and traffic, it can help in reducing the number and seriousness of accidents. A well designed pedestrian route also reduces accidents in that the safety of the pedestrian is emphasized and convenient walking paths are provided.
  Town centre pedestrianisation strategies have been successful in encouraging more people to shop in town centres and improve economic viability.
  Pedestrianisation is not a particularly costly measure to implement compared to other forms of traffic management schemes.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Expected impact on problems

Contribution to alleviation of key problems


Scale of contribution


Congestion-related delay

/ By reducing traffic volumes within the pedestrian core but might increase it through rerouting especially at the edges of the zone.
Community impacts / severance / By reducing traffic volumes within the pedestrian core but might increase it through rerouting especially at the edges of the zone. Providing an increased number of amenities for visitors and residents will encourage the vitality of the city centre and should be seen as part of the design of pedestrianisation zones.
Environmental damage / By reducing traffic-related CO2 emissions around the local area but diversions and rerouting might increase pollution elsewhere. By reducing emissions of NOx, particulates and other local pollutants around the local area but diversions and rerouting might increase pollution elsewhere. By reducing traffic volumes within the pedestrian core but might increase it through rerouting especially at the edges of the zone. One of the design features of pedestrianisation is to increase the amount of green space available to users.
Poor accessibility for those without a car and those with mobility impairments Walking and  public transport would be a mode heavily used by and pedestrianisation improves the environment for them.
Social and geographical disadvantage Walking is a mode heavily used by those on lower incomes and pedestrianisation improves the environment for them and reduces inequity.
Number, severity and risk of accidents By reducing traffic volumes and separating pedestrians from traffic.
Economic growth / Suppression of the potential for economic activity in the area / By encouraging foot traffic. However this may simply be transfer of commercial activity from elsewhere.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Expected winners and losers

Winners and losers




Large scale freight and commercial traffic

In general, they would have to seek alternative routes. If they are destined for the pedestrianised city centre core, their accessibility could potentially be reduced, unless servicing traffic is permitted.

Small businesses

/ These have been shown to substantially benefit from increased footfall arising from pedestrianisation. However this may come at the expense of shops outside the zone.

High income car-users

If travelling by private car, they would have to seek alternative routes. If they are destined for the pedestrianised city centre core, their accessibility could potentially be reduced as they would have to park further away and walk.
Low income car users with poor access to public transport Walking is a mode heavily used by those on lower incomes and pedestrianisation improves the environment for them and reduces inequity.
All existing public transport users If public transport vehicles are routed through the pedestrianised area, they are likely to benefit.
People living adjacent to the area targeted They may be worse off due to rerouting of vehicles around the pedestrianised zone and the associated increase in pollution and noise level. Nevertheless, living in the proximity of a pedestrianised area is an added value for them.
Cyclists including children They would benefit from the car-free, less polluted area.
People at higher risk of health problems exacerbated by poor air quality / By reducing emissions of NOx, particulates and other local pollutants. The level of emissions might be increased in the areas around the pedestrianised zone.
People making high value, important journeys If travelling by private car, they would have to seek alternative bypass routes. If they are destined for the pedestrianised area, their accessibility could potentially be reduced as they would have to park further away if travelling by car.
The average car user / The average car user might find that their accessibility to the city centre may be reduced. However given that they will need to walk to a final destination, improving pedestrian routes will improve the walking environment for them.
= Weakest possible benefit = Strongest possible positive benefit
= Weakest possible negative benefit = Strongest possible negative benefit
= Neither wins nor loses

Barriers to implementation

Scale of barriers
Barrier Scale Comment
Legal Pedestrianisation schemes require changes to traffic regulations, though these should be straightforward. Providing pedestrian routes is generally much easier.
Finance While the simple process of removing traffic is relatively inexpensive, high quality pedestrianisation can be expensive to implement. It must be borne in mind that funding arrangements must be sought for maintenance of the infrastructure and any street furniture/landscaping provided.
Governance Most pedestrian schemes fall within one city’s jurisdiction, but liaison will be needed with private landowners.
Political acceptability The main barrier politically generally comes from small businesses and traders who may oppose the scheme. It is vital to get them involved in the scheme design at the earliest opportunity.
Public and stakeholder acceptability Businesses and drivers may oppose the scheme.  Other members of the public are likely to be supportive.
Technical feasibility Pedestrianisation has been introduced since the mid 1970s and hence it has been demonstrated that this is technically feasible.
= Minimal barrier = Most significant barrier

German Cities


Pedestrianisation schemes have been implemented in Germany since 1965. These results for several cities are taken from Hass-Klau (1993).

Germany contributed to the development of traffic calming concepts through the increase of pedestrianisation in its cities. Residents’ organisations were truly important in strengthening the awareness of the need to protect pedestrians and residents from increased motor traffic, in fighting against new road projects and also in demanding the reduction of traffic flows in residential areas. As a consequence, new solutions for residential areas were sought and residential street improvements became part of the whole process of urban renewal to pursue “livable streets”, offering equal rights to the pedestrians, children, cyclists and PT users.

Impact on demand

Summary of Changes in Pedestrian Flows (as a result of Pedestrianisation)

The percentage changes in pedestrian flows in a set of cities where data was available, is shown in Table 1. Hass-Klau (1993) concludes that while there is considerable variation, many towns show increases in the region of 20-40%. However, Hass-Klau points to the fact that since we are dealing with percentage changes, and the base numbers are not given, the percentage change itself might be misleading.

Table 1: Impact of Pedestrianisation Schemes in Germany




25% increase in pedestrian flows after 12 years


28-40% increase within one year of change


18% growth three years after completion


31% growth after one year and 40% growth after 4 years


69% growth 5 years after completion


26% growth 2 years after completion


20% increase following street closure but before reconstruction 
was completed

Source: Hass-Klau (1993)

Impact on supply

Due to pedestrianisation, it will be the case that the supply of road space is reduced with priority being given to pedestrians. However there is no information on the percentage change in the supply in each of the cities studied.

Other impacts

The most interesting point of Hass-Klau (1993) was the detailed examination of the impacts of pedestrianisation on firms’ profitability and turnover.  Based on questionnaires sent to firms within and outside pedestrianised areas, the findings with regard to changes in turnover are summarised in Table 2. Note that this data was collected in 1978 at the time when the Federal Republic of Germany (“West Germany”) was also growing rapidly, and Germany as a whole was not unified. The presence of the control group (i.e. businesses outside the pedestrian areas) helps to strengthen the robustness of the results.  This data suggests that pedestrianisation helps to improve the turnover for businesses in the retailing and food industry but has a much less positive impact for the hotel industry. This analysis is consistent with the expectation that increased pedestrian flows can lead to an increase in passing traffic and businesses that rely on this (such as restaurants and retail shops) would benefit from the pedestrianisation. At the same time, it is also likely that pedestrians prefer to shop in the pedestrian zone and hence the change could be due to shifts (from one business to another) in turnover rather than new turnover (i.e. totally new business).

Table 2: Percentages of businesses indicating different effects on turnover







Pedestrianised Areas/Sector



No Change

















Outside Pedestrianised Areas/Sector



No Change













Source: Hass-Klau (1993)

Contribution to objectives

Contribution to objectives


Scale of contribution


  As a result of traffic being rerouted around the area, travel times might increase and congestion in the neighbouring areas might occur.
  By reducing community severance and encouraging intermingling of social activities.
  The removal of cars from the residential areas and the city centres will contribute to a reduction in environmental impacts. In the neighbouring areas, pollution levels might increase.
  Increased by encouraging walking and providing higher levels of accessibility for those who cannot afford cars.
  Removal of vehicles and pedestrianisation of certain areas improves safety by reducing the conflicts between cars and pedestrians, therefore reducing the number of accidents.
  The evidence suggests some support for the argument that pedestrianisation leads to increased economic activity and should benefit some sectors of retail.
  The costs of implementing the pedestrianisation schemes are not available.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Land-use  -  mobility integration in Freiburg


For more than three decades the City of Freiburg im Breisgau has pursued an environmentally friendly urban development policy in which transport plays an important role. The city has had a targeted policy to improve conditions for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport. Carefully considered architectural elements connect the various city spaces.

The concept was approved in 1969 with the first Transport Plan (Generalverkehrsplan ) and, since then, the city has developed many pioneering plans and measures, including establishing cycle lanes, banning traffic from the city centre, introducing Germany’s first transferable flat-rate travel card and building a city and suburban railway. Its objectives were:

  • To reduce traffic in the city and give priority to local public transport, cyclists and pedestrians;
  • To create a rational balance between all modes of transport;
  • To create global traffic calming and concentrate private vehicles onto well constructed main arteries;
  • To control parking in public spaces.

During the 1980s, the city council was encouraged by neighbourhood associations to vote for traffic-calming in all residential neighbourhoods to 30km/h and to discourage through traffic in residential areas. The re-authorization of Freiburg’s transport plan in 1989 re-emphasized the explicit goal of limiting car travel and increasing use of the green modes—walking, cycling and public transport.

Vauban is an example of Freiburg’s grass roots citizen involvement in planning for land-use and transport. In the early 1990s, the city administration had plans to redevelop Vauban into a family friendly neighbourhood. This new settlement for 5,000 inhabitants was designed to attract young families and discourage them from moving to the suburbs.

Freiburg’s most recent land-use and transport plans of 2008 were developed simultaneously and are fully integrated. Both reiterate the earlier goals of reducing car use, but they are more explicit about prohibiting car-dependent developments and actively support car-free neighborhoods. Moreover, the new land-use plan identifies 30 priority locations for small retail businesses in Freiburg’s neighbourhood centres, with the goal of keeping trip distances short and assuring local accessibility on foot and by bicycle.

Since the 1980s the city centre remains open only to pedestrians, cyclists, buses and trams. The local economy has enormously benefited, unfortunately rents for centrally located stores are among the highest in Germany meanwhile. Since most of the city centre is a pedestrian area, walking makes up 23% of all travel in Freiburg. The city promotes walking by reducing difficulties and delays. For example, the maximum waiting time at pedestrian crossings is only 30 seconds.

Impact on demand

Due to the affordable and convenient alternatives to car use, more than one third of Freiburg residents do not own a car.
Every day, 200,000 residents make use of the system of four tram lines and 26 bus lines. Freiburg has the lowest automobile density of any city in Germany with 423 cars per 1,000 people. Vauban has even a lower automobile density than the rest of the city: 150 cars per 1000 people.

The increase of car trips in Freiburg over the following 15 years was only 1.3% while the total trips increased by 30%. Public transport passengers increased 53% and bicycle trips rose by 96% in the 30 years from 1976. Most daily shopping trips of Vauban residents are by walking or cycling and occur within the neighbourhood itself.

Contribution to objectives

Contribution to objectives


Scale of contribution


  Due to the affordable and convenient alternatives to car use, more than one third of Freiburg residents do not own a car, therefore the design of this settlement is quite efficient and congestion is reduced.
  By reducing community severance and encouraging intermingling of social activities and by creating a rational balance between all modes of transport.
  The removal of cars from the residential areas and the city centre will contribute to a reduction in environmental impacts.
  Increased by encouraging walking and providing higher levels of accessibility for those who cannot afford cars.
  With the lowest automobile density of any city in Germany the number of accidents is substantially reduced.
  Priority locations for small retail businesses were created in the Vauban area, supporting increased economic activity.
  The costs of implementing the pedestrianisation schemes are not available.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Complete Street Concept in the United States


Complete Streets are streets for everyone. They are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Complete Streets make it easy to cross the street, walk to shops, and cycle to work. They allow buses to run on time and make it safe for people to walk to and from train stations. Creating Complete Streets means transportation agencies must change their approach to community roads. By adopting a Complete Streets policy, communities direct their transportation planners and engineers to routinely design and operate the entire right of way to enable safe access for all users, regardless of age, ability, or mode of transportation. This means that every transportation project will make the street network better and safer for drivers, transit users, pedestrians, and bicyclists – making the towns better places to live.

An ideal Complete Streets policy:

  • Includes a vision for how and why the community wants to complete its streets
  • Specifies that ‘all users’ includes pedestrians, bicyclists and transit passengers of all ages and abilities, as well as trucks, buses and automobiles.
  • Applies to both new and retrofit projects, including design, planning, maintenance, and operations, for the entire right of way.
  • Makes any exceptions specific and sets a clear procedure that requires high-level approval of exceptions.
  • Encourages street connectivity and aims to create a comprehensive, integrated, connected network for all modes.
  • Is adoptable by all agencies to cover all roads.
  • Directs the use of the latest and best design criteria and guidelines while recognizing the need for flexibility in balancing user needs.
  • Directs that Complete Streets solutions will complement the context of the community.
  • Establishes performance standards with measurable outcomes.
  • Includes specific next steps for implementation of the policy.

Impact on demand

Improved safety for all road users, in particular pedestrians: one study found that designing for pedestrians travel by installing raised medians and redesigning intersections and footpaths reduced pedestrian risk by 28%;
43% of people with safe places to walk within 10 minutes of home met the recommended healthy activity levels, while just 27% of those without safe places to walk achieved healthy activity levels.

Contribution to objectives

Contribution to objectives


Scale of contribution


  The impacts on efficiency are not clear from the literature, and will depend on whether road space has been reduced for specific user groups.
  By reducing community severance and encouraging intermingling of social activities and by creating a rational balance between all modes of transport.
  By providing safe options for people to walk and bike, Complete Streets can lead to fewer people driving alone in their cars. This means fewer dangerous emissions from automobiles, which benefits all residents.
  Increased by encouraging walking and providing higher levels of accessibility for those who cannot afford cars.
  Various studies suggest that Complete Streets principles have improved safety. Rates of pedestrian injuries and fatalities decrease 88% when sidewalks are added, 69% when hybrid beacon signals are added, and 39% when medians are added.
  Successful Complete Streets implementation has helped some communities stimulate local economies. A revitalization project in Lancaster, CA helped create 50 new businesses and over 800 new jobs. After a 2007 Complete Streets redesign in parts of New York City, there was a nearly 50% increase in retail sales on 9th Avenue in Manhattan and nearly 50% decrease in commercial vacancies in Union Square.
  The costs of implementing the pedestrianisation schemes are not available.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Expected contribution to objectives

Contribution to objectives
Objective German Cities City of Freiburg / Vauban Complete streets
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Contribution to problems

Contribution to alleviation of key problems
Problem German Cities City of Freiburg / Vauban Complete streets
Community impacts
Environmental damage
Poor accessibility
Social and geographical disadvantage
Economic growth
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Appropriate contexts

Appropriate area-types
Area type Suitability
City centre
Dense inner suburb
Medium density outer suburb
Less dense outer suburb
District centre
Small town
Tourist town
= Least suitable area type = Most suitable area type

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