Pedestrian unfriendly streets

When walking along a busy footpath, there’s nothing more annoying than undulating paving that looks like it’s been dropped wherever convenient and having to manoeuvre around poorly placed obstacles – that includes poorly placed humans who decide to have a chat smack bang in the middle of the path. This certainly applies when you’re in a hurry!

In general Adelaide is pretty good at keeping its footpaths wide and clear – at least in the city centre – but there still is evidence in some places of a clear lack of proper thinking and planning when some things were built. Check out the following couple of images on North Terrace in Adelaide’s city centre adjacent to the Royal Adelaide Hospital (which will soon be no more), both are bus shelters within a hundred metres of each other that some smart cookie thought would sit nicely in the middle of the footpath!

Bus stop in the middle of a narrow footpath outside Adelaide's RAH. It's even harder to get through here when there are throngs of people queued along here waiting for buses.

Another poorly placed bus stop on North Terrace, combined with a tree, taking up most of the footpath width.

A bit further down North Terrace, the situation is rather different. It’s clear that this layout was well thought through – the paving is consistent and tidy, there’s no obstacles in the middle of the path, and it’s pleasant and leafy – all key elements in making the paths easier to use and more inviting. This street section was upgraded a few years ago and has turned out quite nicely, even considering that the upgrade took well over a year to complete. This is an important factor in encouraging activity on the streets and is something that will be discussed in later posts.

The upgraded section of North Terrace, much better planned than the sections shown in the previous images.

Taking pedestrian-friendly design another step further, the following image shows Leigh Street which was redeveloped in 1999. This is one of my favourite streets in Adelaide. Not only has the paving on the path been spruced up, but all the other street furniture (The street lamps, benches, poles) has been designed to suit the surrounding heritage buildings and the roadway itself blends in with the footpath which encourages drivers to slow down. The result is very aesthetically pleasing and the amount of activity in this laneway during the day is in stark contrast with the drearily quiet scenes on other nearby laneways.

A very aesthetically pleasing Leigh Street, an excellent example of a pedestrian friendly street.

Even with some of the poor footpath jobs in Adelaide, we’re lucky we have paths on nearly all our streets. Some cities barely have footpaths on their streets!

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