A cost-effective pavement?
The argument of sociological nature is unfortunately insufficient in this matter, because in trying to draw the attention to the average person to about this problem, it may turn out that it is waste one’s breath. for the careful and good design of the pavement space, the most important is the question of finances. Because taking care of pedestrian space is not just an abstract concept, it's best to show examples that can be used as a model and proof for the rightness of the ideas. In recent years, many cities have reoriented their approach to the design of pedestrian space. The most well-known and perhaps best-documented case is New York and its transport commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, who carried out a real ideological urban revolution in the approach to pedestrian and public spaces. The scope of her activities was very wide and included not only giving up space in the city for pedestrians but also expanding the public transport system, the cycle path network. This became a model example of how this type of interference into the city space streamline can improve the quality of life in the city. The whole project was also widely consulted and supported by professor Jan Gehl, a well-known venturer, and propagator of solutions that help to adapt cities to human needs. Both Jan Gehl and his team of associates were an irreplaceable source of knowledge and intellectual-sociological know-how in this type of project. Although the initial goal of these activities was to improve traffic in the city and improve road safety, especially for pedestrians, the range of their impact had an unexpected extent.
The authorities of New York quickly noticed the disproportions that prevail between individual street users and the parts intended for their use. A good example was one of the most well-known symbols of NY - Times Square, where 82% of traffic was on foot, yet the proportions of a part of the street devoted to pedestrian traffic were much smaller than those intended for car traffic. It is Sadik-Khan and her team who are responsible for giving Times Square to the pedestrians and improving their safety. During the entire term of office, the same team has carried out many such projects both on a municipal and local scale, which not only improved the accessibility of New York streets, pedestrian safety on its roads, but what is particularly interesting, also positively influenced the local small businesses. As each activity was always carefully examined in terms of data collection on the changes carried out, the relationship between the release and adaptation of pedestrian space and the development of local trade was very quickly noted. The local trade profit increased by 49%, and the number of empty service premises fell by 47%, all by creating appropriate relations between the buildings and the space that leads them to their clients, i.e. pedestrians. This is proof that investing in pedestrian spaces is not only a figment of sociologists pointing to the relationship between the quality of these spaces and our well-being but real investment that is profitable, mainly for the users themselves. The data collected in New York is not just a proof of the rightness of the thesis, but an argument in the recent heated discussion that has fomented in Polish cities about limiting access for cars. Showing the financial profitability of introduced changes and promoting pedestrian communication in the city, that is, de facto privileging the pavement on the city street is the best answer to the repeated argument that limiting car traffic kills the local business. The point is not to prove to your right but to note that something more or less pays off and generates a measurable profit, and this is a good investment.
If the pavement can generate profit and, besides, positively affect the life of the urban community, why do not we still pay enough attention to it and we do not fight for it? Since it can provide us with real profit and income, why are we able to give up so often for the illusory feeling that direct access to the store by car at the expense of pedestrian space will affect this store positively.