Using big data to analyze movement patterns allows clients to fully understand who is coming to and through downtown, where they come from, why they travel (work, shop, etc.), and how they get there. In addition, data has shown that travel behaviors have major shifts by day, time of day and season.
Vehicles have been counted for transportation improvements since the 1950s. Learn about two pilot programs using innovative data sets to count people walking, biking and rolling – and why it matters.
The Greater Des Moines Partnership collaborated with the Iowa Chapter of the Urban Land Institute and the City of Des Moines to seek transportation improvements that could help increase downtown vibrancy. Collectively, the organizations analyzed existing conditions by measuring a multitude of metrics such as traffic counts, bicycle usage, pedestrian traffic, ease of crossing at intersections, sidewalk connectivity, bicycle facilities, connections to trails, lane widths, and number of accidents.
The team conducted a street-by-street analysis (20 miles total) of existing conditions including lane width, sidewalk width, on-street parking, traffic speeds, pedestrian traffic, and ground floor vacancy to gauge how existing conditions impact the efficiency and economic functionality of downtown. With fieldwork completed, the team engaged with city planning and traffic engineering staff to better understand the thought and efforts going into street reconstruction and striping efforts.
John Bela is an urbanist and public space designer with Gehl Studio San Francisco. He combines a background in art, science and environmental design to create vibrant, dynamic and resilient urban human habitats. A pioneer in user-generated urbanism, John has successfully completed many projects that involve radical new formulations of social space. John is a senior lecturer at the California College of Arts in San Francisco and a distinguished lecturer at U.C. Berkeley.
In many ways, urban place management organizations such as business improvement districts (BIDs) continue to lay the foundation for pedestrian improvements by creating a clean, enjoyable environment for pedestrians. However, more effort is now needed to develop the infrastructure necessary to further capitalize on the trend of living, working, and playing in downtown areas. As global populations shift toward urban centers, the opportunity is ripe for downtown areas to improve walkability.
New residential and retail development is remaking downtowns into 24/7 neighborhoods. The changes have made a 70s-era pedestrian zone and several other previously unnoticed corners into more important public spaces, but planners face challenges as they try to cater to new pedestrian needs. See how local planners used low-cost experiments, sensor technology, social media, and new ways to communicate the value of public space to make change happen.