¡Hagamos calles pegajosas para la gente!

A las ciudades les ha costado trabajo evolucionar su perspectiva sobre el papel de las calles como lugares públicos, a una mas inteligente que haga ciudad: Las buenas ciudades saben que las calles mueven gente, no sólo coches. Las Grandes ciudades saben que las calles son lugares para acudir, permanecer, deambular y disfrutar de ellas no sólamente pasar por ellas.

Origen: Let’s Make Sticky Streets for People! | Planetizen: The independent resource for people passionate about planning and related fields

Brent Toderian | June 17, 2014, 12pm PDT
Brent Toderian

Aquí en Vancouver, tenemos una perspectiva bastante ilustrada sobre las calles, al menos bajo los estándares norteamericanos. Por muchas décadas, y particularmente desde el Plan de Transporte de 1997, que cambio las reglas de juego, los planificadores de ciudad y también los ingenieros de tráfico de Vancouver han comprendido que las calles no son sólo para mover coches, son para mover gente.

Con el apoyo de las decisiones de Vancouver sobre uso de suelo y la deliberada priorización de caminar, montar bicicleta y viajar en transporte publico, el movimiento en nuestras calles significa mover más y más gente en modos activos o “poder humano”. Dado que estos modos ocupan mucho menos espacio y costo publico, esto significa que nuestras calles son mucho más eficientes para mover gente que aquellas diseñadas para priorizar automóviles – algo que nuestros ingenieros de transporte ilustrados aún aman.

 

But here’s the thing – streets aren’t just for moving people. In our more recent Transportation 2040 Plan, which I was deep into before leaving City Hall, our goal was a deliberate next evolution of thinking – streets for people to enjoy and linger, not just move through.

You see, up until a few years ago, my excellent colleagues in the Transportation Planning Department still tended to think of success in streets as being about movement, albeit much more sustainable, healthy and cost-effective movement (who can blame them, I suppose – transportation is in their title), and as something you can count (well, most of them ARE engineers, after all). The concept of place-making, of deliberately wanting people to stop and enjoy the street rather than move through it, was harder to count, and thus harder to conceptualize as success.

No issue revealed this tension more than that of restaurant or café patio space on busy walking streets. Although such patios are an excellent way to turn streets into places to linger and people-watch, if your priority is to move people along sidewalks, especially sidewalks with widths that are not particularly generous, patios can be seen as a hindrance.

But when you see streets as people-places, those things that slow down a pedestrian’s pace may be the very things that make a street great. Things like patios, food carts or trucks combined with attractive seating, street performers, or just really lively store windows that draw a crowd, all contribute to making a street more “sticky.” And by that, I don’t mean gum on the sidewalk! A street is sticky if as you move along it, you’re constantly enticed to slow down, stop and linger to enjoy the public life around you.

At first, this kind of success can make an engineer nervous – can you count it? Model it?

As a city-maker, one of my favorite quotes is “not everything that counts can be counted.” For those who love to count things though, there are proven methodologies out there on how you can quantify and measure the amount of time that people stay in a space or street. One of my favorite new books focuses on the subject, “How to Study Public Life” by my friend and mentor Jan Gehl, co-written with Birgitte Svarre. I highly recommend it.

As the book notes,

“Starting with the question of how many is basic to public life studies. In principle, everything can be counted, but what is often registered is how many people are moving (pedestrian flow) and how many people are staying in one place (stationary activity).”

In other words, one of the most valuable things to measure and count on a street, is how long people stay. A particularly memorable piece of advice Jan once gave to me, is that you can double the number of people in a public place either by doubling the number of people who are drawn to the place (which can be challenging given the need to get their attention, and then address the transportation/parking needs and implications of having them come), OR by doubling the length of time that people choose to stay. The latter is easier (or at least it should be, if place-making was understood better) – you simply have to make a place that people want to stay in longer. So the key, once people choose to come to a street or place, is to entice them to linger.

That’s what sticky streets are all about. Streets that are almost a challenge to get through, not because of barriers or because, like malls, they’re designed to make you feel lost, but because of so many enticing opportunities to participate in public life! Opportunities that seduce you to stop, watch, smile, enjoy and possibly participate – to be part of things.

Much of our efforts as urbanists in recent years has been promoting the concept of more walkable cities. As we think about street design however, great streets should be both walkable AND sticky. In fact, the two are completely synergistic, as there are few things that make walking safer and more enjoyable than walking along other people sitting and enjoying the street – even if you have to occasionally walk around them. Even if you don’t choose to stop, it can make the walking experience so much better.

So what makes a street sticky? A great shopping street where every store has something going on to draw the eye. Windows with something interesting and active inside, sometimes referred to as “street theatre.” Lively patios for people-watching (and don’t forget, colder cities like Copenhagen have shown that patios need not be seasonal – try blankets!). Lots of casual seating and informal food opportunities such as food carts and trucks. The right combination of sun, shade, wind protection, water (especially to create “white noise” for noisy streets) and micro-climates designed for the specific local context. Things to look at and engage with, such as public art (preferably interactive).

All these can work, but never forget three things:

Primero, lo más interesante para la gente es mirar a otra gente.

Segundo, recuerda que lo menos pegajoso que una calle puede tener son paredes lisas, ya sea en el diseño inicial del edificio, o por ventanas bloqueadas con “imágenes de estilo de vida” o papel higiénico apilado (sí, farmacias, les estoy hablando a ustedes). A estas podríamos llamarlas “calles teflón”. No las permitas.

Tercero, recuerda que no cada calle debe ser tan pegajosa como las otras. Elije tus calles para el mayor énfasis, pero cada calle debe tener lo suficiente ser caminable y recompensar al ojo del peatón.

No sorprende que estos factores para calles pegajosas sean los mismos que hacen a plazas y lugares públicos pegajosos, como lo estudiaron por décadas grandes ‘hacedores’ de lugares como William H. Whyte y sus sucesores en el Project for Public Spaces (PPS). Después de todo, las calles son sólo espacios públicos – del tipo más común en ciudades.

Entre tanto, como urbanistas y diseñadores urbanos, o como cualquier ‘hacedor’ de lugar, mientras discutes con tus colegas del transporte, trabajando duro para evolucionar su compartida perspectiva sobre el papel mas inteligente de las calles en hacer ciudad, recuerda: Las buenas ciudades saben que las calles mueven a la gente, no sólo a coches. Las grandes ciudades saben que las calles son también destinos, lugares para permanecer, deambular y disfrutar.

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Acerca de salvolomas

Asociación vecinal, cuyo objeto es preservar la colonia habitacional unifamiliar, sus calles arboladas con aceras caminables, con trafico calmado, seguras para bici, parques, areas verdes, centros de barrio de uso mixto accesibles a pie y oficinas solo en áreas designadas.
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