Skip to content

Posts from the "Jan Gehl" Category

15 Comments

Construction Begins on Pedestrian-Friendly Redesign of Fisherman’s Wharf

Crews began work yesterday on an overhaul of Jefferson Street in Fisherman’s Wharf that will expand pedestrian space, reduce the number of cars, and create a more welcoming public realm for the throngs of tourists that regularly crowd the street. Improvements on the first two blocks of Jefferson, between Jones and Hyde Streets, were fast-tracked for completion in time for America’s Cup, which is set to begin on July 4. Construction was originally scheduled to begin in October, but it was pushed back to January for unspecified reasons.

The project, designed with the help of Danish architect Jan Gehl, is expected to transform Jefferson into the kind of popular pedestrian-oriented streets that are found many in cities across the world, but are few and far between in San Francisco, as the San Francisco Business Times noted back in June:

The remade Fisherman’s Wharf will recall — but not try to copy — other noted areas where strolling and biking are the main way to get around a shopping/eating district, like Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade or Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road.

“It’s not being done to make it like Disneyland,” said Troy Campbell, executive director of the Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District. It was important to shopkeepers and other longtime residents of the area that Fisherman’s Wharf maintain its character, Campbell said.

“On a busy day, it should feel like an outdoor plaza, an urban living space,” said Neil Hrushowy, project manager in the city’s Planning Department.

Read more…

3 Comments

Danish Architect Jan Gehl on Good Cities for Bicycling

Bicyclists on their way through the city are part of city life. They can, with ease, switch between being bicyclists and pedestrians. Photos by Jan Gehl.

Editor’s note: This is the final installment in our series this week featuring Danish architect and livable streets luminary Jan Gehl. The pieces are excerpts from his book, “Cities for People” published by Island Press. Donate to Streetsblog SF and you’ll qualify to win a copy of the book, courtesy of Island Press.

Bicyclists represent a different and somewhat rapid form of foot traffic, but in terms of sensory experiences, life and movement, they are part of the rest of city life. Naturally, bicyclists are welcome in support of the goal to promote lively, safe, sustainable and healthy cities. The following is about planning good cities for bicyclists, and is handled relatively narrowly and in direct relation to a discussion on the human dimension in city planning.

Around the world there are numerous cities where bicycles and bicycle traffic would be unrealistic. It is too cold and icy for bicycles in some areas, too hot in others. In some places the topography is too mountainous and steep for bicycles. Bicycle traffic is simply not a realistic option in those situations. Then there are surprises like San Francisco, where you might think bicycling would be impractical due to all the hills. However, the city has a strong and dedicated bicycle culture. Bicycling is also popular in many of the coldest and warmest cities, because, all things considered, even they have a great number of good bicycling days throughout the year.

The fact remains that a considerable number of cities worldwide have a structure, terrain and climate well suited for bicycle traffic. Over the years, many of these cities have thrown their lot in with traffic policies that prioritized car traffic and made bicycle traffic dangerous or completely impossible. In some places extensive car traffic has kept bicycle traffic from even getting started.

In many cities, bicycle traffic continues to be not much more than political sweet talk, and bicycle infrastructure typically consists of unconnected stretches of paths here and there rather than the object of a genuine, wholehearted and useful approach. The invitation to bicycle is far from convincing. Typically in these cities only one or two percent of daily trips to the city are by bicycle, and bicycle traffic is dominated by young, athletic men on racing bikes. There is a yawning gap from that situation to a dedicated bicycle city like Copenhagen, where 37 percent of traffic to and from work or school is by bicycle. Here bicycle traffic is more sedate, bicycles are more comfortable, the majority of cyclists are women, and bicycle traffic includes all age groups from school children to senior citizens.

Read more…

1 Comment

Danish Architect Jan Gehl on Good Cities for Walking

There is more to walking than walking. Photos by Jan Gehl.

Editor’s note: Streetsblog San Francisco is thrilled to present a three-part series this week by renowned Danish architect and livable streets luminary Jan Gehl. The pieces are excerpts from his book, “Cities for People” published by Island Press. This is part two. Donate to Streetsblog SF and you’ll qualify to win a copy of the book, courtesy of Island Press.

It is a big day when at about one year of age a child takes that first step. The child’s eye level moves from the vantage point of the crawler (about 1 foot) above the floor to about 2.6 feet.

The little walker can see much more and move faster. From now on everything in the child’s world — field of vision, perspective, overview, pace, flexibility and opportunities — will move on a higher, faster plane. All of life’s important moments will hereafter be experienced on foot at standing and walking pace.

While walking is basically a linear movement that brings the walker from place to place, it is also much more. Walkers can effortlessly stop underway to change direction, maneuver, speed up or slow down or switch to a different type of activity such as standing, sitting, running, dancing, climbing or lying down.

A city walk illustrates its many variations: the quick goal-oriented walk from A to B, the slow stroll to enjoy city life or a sunset, children’s zig-zagging, and senior citizens’ determined walk to get fresh air and exercise or do an errand. Regardless of the purpose, a walk in city space is a “forum” for the social activities that take place along the way as an integral part of pedestrian activities. Heads move from side to side, walkers turn or stop to see everything, or to greet or talk with others. Walking is a form of transport, but it is also a potential beginning or an occasion for many other activities.

Read more…

9 Comments

Danish Architect Jan Gehl on Cities for People: The Safe City

Sibelius Park, a housing complex in Copenhagen, has cooperated with the Danish Crime Prevention Council to carefully define private, semiprivate, semipublic and public territories in the complex. Subsequent studies have shown that there is less crime and greater security than in other similar developments. Photos: Jan Gehl

Editor’s note: Streetsblog San Francisco is thrilled to launch a three-part series today by renowned Danish architect and livable streets luminary Jan Gehl. The pieces are excerpts are from his book, “Cities for People” published by Island Press. Donate to Streetsblog SF and you’ll qualify to win a copy of the book, courtesy of Island Press. Visit the Island Press website to find many more great titles by the nation’s leading publisher of books on environmental issues.

Feeling safe is crucial if we hope to have people embrace city space. In general, life and people themselves make the city more inviting and safe in terms of both experienced and perceived security.

In this section we deal with the safe city issue with the goal of ensuring good cities by inviting walking, biking and staying. Our discussion will focus on two important sectors where targeted efforts can satisfy the requirement for safety in city space: traffic safety and crime prevention.

Throughout the entire period of car encroachment, cities have tried to remove bicycle traffic from their streets. The risk of accident to pedestrians and bicyclists has been great throughout the rise in car traffic, and the fear of accident even greater.

Many European countries and North America experienced the car invasion early on and have watched city quality deteriorate year by year. There have been numerous counter reactions and an incipient development of new traffic planning principles in response. In other countries whose economies have developed more slowly and modestly, cars have only begun to invade cities more recently. In every case the result is a dramatic worsening of conditions for pedestrians and bicycle traffic.

Read more…

No Comments

Planetizen Unveils Its Top 100 Urban Thinkers

She may be experiencing an intellectual reconsideration in some
corners, but Jane Jacobs is still a beloved figure for the urban
planners and designers of Planetizen.

0433_12innova.jpgJane Jacobs (Photo: BusinessWeek)

After
a month-long online poll that saw more than 14,000 votes cast, the site
released its list of the "Top 100 Urban Thinkers" today — and Jane was
at the top. Her longtime antagonist Robert Moses came in at No. 23, nine spots ahead of current New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

Other notables singled out by Planetizen readers include Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of New York’s Central Park (No. 4), Enrique Penalosa, Bogota’s former mayor and a dedicated proponent of bus rapid transit (No. 14), and Kaid Benfield, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s smart growth program (No. 42).

Check out the complete top 100 right here. Is anyone missing, or should anyone be ranked higher than they are?