A well-connected urban environment consists of shared, multi-functional spaces which have convenient and integrated routes for pedestrians, cyclists, cars and public transport – and which are therefore more able to support a range of viable travel options.
Cars are likely to be used less often if the journey to the local shops or school is direct, safe and attractive and streets are well-maintained. This promotes sustainable, healthy ways of living via walking and cycling instead of driving.
Though other factors may impact upon the final design, new developments should be planned so as to reduce demand for road space and provide the community with sustainable and realistic alternative transport options.
In addition, the importance of the changing digital landscape and the increasing integration of GPS and navigational apps should not be underestimated when considering how the site is used and by whom. This is a constantly evolving field and one which requires consideration throughout the design process, particularly when considering the legibility and permeability of a layout and how the site will be interpreted by users.
A close-knit pattern of connected urban streets and spaces produces a variety of benefits:
Travel distance between origin and destination for local journeys is minimised.
Encourages the establishment of fine-grain mixed-use.
Creates a more sociable and safer public realm.
Supports the use of cycling and walking.
Supports the formation and use of a central hub at the core of larger developments.
An analysis of existing movement patterns and future development sites should determine approximate desire lines and identify the potential for improving existing routes and creating new ones. A more rigorous prediction of traffic behaviour within the network may be required by the Highway Authority, who will make this requirement known at an early stage. Pedestrian behaviour can be accurately predicted using a spatial syntax model, making it possible to design the alignment and shape of the public realm to ensure maximum flows are captured along preferred routes.
Off-street footways must be designed to maximise personal safety using adequate lighting and natural surveillance from surrounding buildings. The integration of smart street furniture to facilitate and increase the perception of safety on all footways should also be considered.
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