Cities will benefit

By making a leap forward in working with walkable cities, the project partners will achieve new insights to the advantage for our customers and partners on new smart sustainable city approaches.

The worlds’ view on mobility is rapidly changing from a concept that “just” needs to move people from A to B to a concept that needs to move people from A to B in a sustainable and liveable way. The notion of cars as the primary measure of upholding mobility is fading – and rightfully so.

Benefits of walking

For people over 60, walking just 15 minutes a day can reduce the risk of dying by 22%.

Biking and walking provide an estimated return on investment of $11.80 for every $1 invested.

In London, Trafalgar Square saw a 300% increase in visitors after pedestrianizing.

On a single car-free day in 2015, Paris cut smog by 40% in parts of the city.

When Melbourne redesigned its center for pedastrians, it saw an 830% increase in residents.

Pedestrians may spend as much as 65% more than drivers.

Inspiration from other initiatives

In Oslo parking spaces were removed without much thought to what would replace them. This incensed business owners, who were already terrified the car ban would prevent customers from coming in-store. However, figures from the Statistics Norway compiled for the Oslo trade Association show that some people’s bleak predictions were wrong. Retail trade in downtown Oslo increased by 2.1 per cent in 2018, compared to an increase of 2.2 per cent for the whole of Oslo.

This trend is confirmed by COWI’s study for Frederiksberg municipality (a central part of Copenhagen area). This study shows that cyclists and pedestrians in Frederiksberg create two-third of the turnover on shopping streets and they are more frequent customers than car drivers. The study shows that one kerbstone car parking space gives a turnover of DKK 600 per visit, while the same space could contain six bicycles, giving a turnover of DKK 2.100. This shows that private developers also have an increased incentive to focus on better infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists, rather than cars.

In Oslo, COWI has contributed to a new Street design manual. The manual emphasizes the need to think and act bearing in mind the overall vision to "to create a greener, warmer and more inclusive city for everyone". The streets must provide functions beyond traffic flow, accommodate for universal design and for walking, cycling and public transport to be the preferred choices for journeys in Oslo.

The alternative to cars on the longer trips is public transport and an essential part of making this an attractive alternative is the “first-/last mile problem”. The trips to and from public transport stops are primarily done by walking. In Denmark, we often refer to a concept called “stationsnærhedsprincippet” (proximity to station principle). This is a principle stating that within a local geographical catchment area around public transport stops, conditions for dense urban development are especially good as people in these areas tend to use more public transport. The catchment area is defined by the length of the trip, to and from the stop, users are willing to travel. The research project will expand knowledge on design that can increase the willingness to walk, and walk longer, for the benefit of both city authorities and private developers.