There are various ways to get around a city: buses, train, uber. These are the most traditional options but are consequential to the wellbeing of a city. Architects in Michigan are working to create ways to improve the health of cities on a macro to micro scale. They are doing this is by incorporating design elements that inspire active transportation within communities. There are a number of reasons for architects in Michigan to create walkable cities. Cities that promote active transportation are encouraging healthier lifestyles within the community, saving on public transportation costs, and improving the overall quality of life in the neighborhoods. Cities that amplify the use of active transportation have a strong sense of place, mixed land uses, compact building design, various housing opportunities and pathways developed at the human scale. As architects in Michigan, we understand that the effects of the built environment have a considerable impact on those who live within a city. It is our responsibility to use our skills to create these spaces.
A walkable city is a space that is densely saturated with architectural details, strategic design, and integrated planning that keeps the eyes moving and motivates people to travel through these spaces. Towns that are mixed use are more appealing due to the more diverse population. These places include more variety in generations, and incomes. The pedestrian experience is one of the most important factors when designing a walkable city or town.
Many family run businesses lay within small towns so communities that have a well-developed active transportation system are setting those business up for continued success. People who are within walking distance are more likely to support local businesses. Jumping in a personal vehicle or waiting for a bus may be daunting so well-developed cities are going to incentivize foot travel. A vehicle is one of the most expensive items the average person owns, so walking places can easily save someone some cash. The economic and social power of a walkable city reaches the individual to the city as a whole.
Obviously, an increase in active transportation reduces Co2 emissions. If cities are carefully planned to accommodate short walking distances fewer people will be turning to their vehicle to get somewhere. Architects in Michigan keep in mind that using your feet uses zero fossil fuels! As a result of fewer Co2 emissions and additional public green spaces the air quality in cities will improve.
Architects in Michigan know that appropriate equipment is necessary to prevent bikes from slowing traffic and crowding sidewalks, that’s why bike racks and bike lanes are critical in creating a successful walkable city. It is important for cities that are trying to achieve the walkable status to provide various means of transportation other than buses or trains. Places like Detroit and Chicago provide rentable scooters and bicycles to navigate around the city. Obviously, exercise is a fantastic stress reliever. Cities that have less stressed inhabitants progress more and at a faster pace. The environmentally friendly aspect and health factor are essentially working hand in hand.
For people to want to walk through cities that must feel that they are safe. The more popular walkers and cyclists become, the more aware motorists become of their presence. An approach city make to promote safety and comfort for pedestrians is lowering the speed limits, this pushes motorist to be more cautious. They also include interconnected streets and distinct intersections and crossing points. Providing designated parking lots that are hidden allows pedestrians to dominate the street and create more inviting pathways. This also minimizes hardscaping and provide other opportunities for the city to utilize spaces on the behalf of the people. As walkable cities are being designed architects in Michigan avoid street side parking to boost curb appeal and incorporate front porches on residential buildings. Walking through a neighborhood that has houses that have front porches feels more comfortable because they provide alluring landscaping opportunities and act as inviting active spaces for residents to spend their time and encourage interaction between neighbors while maintaining a semi-private feel.
In addition to safety pedestrians need to be entertained. That’s where architects in Michigan come in. We provide the tools to create environments that will keep people traveling through the city. Creative strategies like using vegetation to disguise parking lots will increase the curb appeal of spaces, green spaces to control water runoff and provide a recreational space for people to gather, and thoughtful architectural detail on store fronts will stimulate pedestrian traffic.
If you said that the shape of space didn’t have an impact on its environment all architects in Michigan would disagree. If a space is bland people are not going to want to congregate in these areas. People need to have a sense of demarcation from the road while on the sidewalk to feel comfortable walking. Providing trees, flower boxes, installations, and benches creates a sense of separation for pedestrians while also creating an appealing environment. Thoughtfully placing trees along walking paths provide not only separation but also shade. Cities can place shrubs along the road to create separation but trees a vital in creating shade so that walking through the city isn’t uncomfortable during the hot summer months. No one wants to walk down a street that is only made up of a bleak grey sidewalk that connects immediately to the busy asphalt of the city which is enveloped by colorless high rises. Environments developed with systematic design and are filled with vegetation and public spaces creates areas that people are more willing to travel.
With encouragement of active transportation, the quality of life increases. As this trend escalates one may notice the decrease of traffic noise and a boost in public safety awareness. The use of strategically placed landscaping aids the reduction of street noise and redirects views from the busy street. Active transportation is also a simple way to increase personal interaction. Increased social engagement brings the communities together. The walkability of a city influences its development, tourism and economic performance.