Making Pedestrian Malls Work: Key Elements of Successful Pedestrian Malls in the US and Europe
MetadataShow full item record
Pedestrian malls are car-free zones within cities where street space is reserved for pedestrian use. These areas generally include a range of retail, residential, and office activity and a mix of land use patterns. Pedestrian malls are common in European cities, but they are rarely found in the United States. While many US cities installed approximately 200 pedestrian malls at the end of the 20th century, only about 15 remain in use today. Successful pedestrian malls are characterized by significant pedestrian activity. Since one of the primary objectives of urban design and the current movement toward sustainable urbanism is to reduce auto dependence and increase pedestrian activity, pedestrian malls deserve renewed attention. With proper design and implementation, new pedestrian zones can enhance the quality of life, livability, and sustainability of cities. For pedestrian malls to be successful, many elements relating to economic development, planning, marketing, and design need to come together. To get a full understanding of elements contributing to thriving pedestrian malls, this project evaluates factors that lead to successful pedestrian malls in the US and Europe. This evaluation consists of a review of existing literature, in-depth case studies of four pedestrian malls, and the qualitative and quantitative analyses of data gathered through site visits, interviews, and field observations. Findings from this study were used to create a framework that categorizes the most important elements of pedestrian mall success into four key areas: accessibility, use, design, and comfort. These areas were selected based on observations and responses of pedestrian mall patrons as well as city planners and business association members responsible for managing pedestrian malls. A review of responses revealed a number of significant differences in priorities between these two groups regarding what is needed to draw people to a pedestrian area and to ultimately make it successful. To help address these differences, this study concludes with a number of recommendations for urban designers, urban planners, policymakers, and others involved with creating and maintaining pedestrian areas. Specific suggestions are provided regarding how to design, develop, and maintain pedestrian areas built on these elements of success.