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Thread: Skywalk systems

  1. #26
    Cyburbian Hceux's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Montrealer
    My intention is certainly not to revive the old Montreal/Toronto competition (I actually think that both cities are amazing in their own ways), but Toronto has 27 km (16 miles) of connected underground pathways (see http://www.city.toronto.on.ca/path/ ) , Montreal has more than 30km (30km or 32km, depending on the source)

    Anyway, both systems are quite large, as you can see.
    Oops! Thanks for the correction, Montrealer!

  2. #27
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Off-topic:
    One of the CH cities, I think.Maybe it was Springfield.
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  3. #28
    Cyburbian spunky2's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by spokanite
    It looks like the skywalk featured in the VW bug commercial. You know... the one where the guy walks around looking all sad day after day until he sees the convertible bug drive under the skywalk. Then I presume he got sadder after that... I dunno, the commercial just ended there.

  4. #29
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    Here's an interesting site about the Minneapolis Skyway System. http://www.cala2.umn.edu/skywayminneapolis/default.html

    Perhaps it depends on the location, but I think without a doubt the skyway is a safer people place and has allowed the streets to be less congested and have higher capacities. Within the Skyway system, people are in a safer environment that was created for them. Perhaps STREET vibrance goes down, but the skyways are full of people, providing a better place to interact. Businesses (especially retail and commercial services) across town are better able to thrive with the skyway, as various buildings and skyscrapers are interconnected and provide a steady flow of traffic and convenience that streets and sidewalks just can't offer.

    Case in point: for two separate days I had to go over to Wells Fargo Place in the Minnesota World Trade Center, and decided to test times. From Galtier Plaza (the building where I work) to Wells Fargo/World Trade Center is 1 block over and 5 blocks down. All time taken on escalators and elevators is accounted for.

    Time using most direct skyway route: 6:07.
    The route I took on the skyway was from Galtier Plaza through 175 Jackson to US Bank Center to 401 building to Town Square to MNWTC.

    Time using most direct street route: 15:35.
    The route I took on the streets was taking the elevator down to the first floor of Galtier and walking out onto Jackson Street. I took Jackson to 6th all the way down to the entrance of the WTC. At WTC I took the escalator up to Wells Fargo.

    What accounts for the difference is the fact that on the skyway there was nothing to delay me. It was pure walking all the way. On the street I was faced with traffic lights causing me to wait, parking ramp entrances and exits, and road work. All normal conditions for any given day in any given city. The skyway provides ease of use and more efficient transit.

    Which then brings me to my next question: how necessary is it to have streets bustling with people? The cars will see less people on the sidewalks, but the bulk of the people will see each other in the bustling skyways.

    If implemented correctly, such as in the case of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, skyways are a real boon, not only for weather but for commerce. It takes half the time for me to get somewhere using the skyway, making it much more likely I will leave the confines of the block I happen to be on, which in turn benefits business from increased traffic. If there were no skyways, I would think twice about heading over to Fhima's to grab lunch, and instead have something from the food court in my building. From reading what other people are saying, it seems to me that the only skyway system that is truly effective are the skyways in Saint Paul and Minneapolis (they are also the most extensive and largest). Planning a system requires quite an investment and time to grow. Making a blanket statement like "skyways are bad" is rather naive, as it depends upon time, money, and location.

    With that said, when those three conditions can be properly fulfilled, the potential for a great system is at hand. Capacity is increased and gridlock is lowered. Just like we don't run water pipes right through a ventilation duct, it also makes sense to not run people through conditions best suited for cars.

    All of this is my opinion interspersed with facts of course, but I live with a skyway system every day and see the benefit that it has provided to my city.

  5. #30
    Quote Originally posted by The Shadoe
    I think without a doubt the skyway is a safer people place and has allowed the streets to be less congested and have higher capacities. Within the Skyway system, people are in a safer environment that was created for them.
    I hate to be a hippy idealist here, but streets are created for people too, or at least they should be. I'm not overly familiar with Minneapolis, but does foot traffic really get to the point of overcrowding the sidewalks and creating auto traffic hazards on a regular basis? Do we remove people from sidewalks because it's not "safe" walking next to auto traffic? I'm not into segregating transportation modes. If the cars can't "play safe" with the pedestrians, it's the autos that need to change.

  6. #31
    spokanite's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by The Shadoe
    I think without a doubt the skyway is a safer people place and has allowed the streets to be less congested and have higher capacities. Within the Skyway system, people are in a safer environment that was created for them.
    The same could be said for a park in the city center or a regional mall. I don't believe the capacity of the streets is impacted by the addition of skywalks. Traffic flow m-a-y-b-e (spoken slowly and for five seconds), but not capacity. The streets will still hold the same capacity of automobiles regardless of the number of pedestrians.
    how necessary is it to have streets bustling with people? The cars will see less people on the sidewalks, but the bulk of the people will see each other in the bustling skyways.
    For many cities skywalks represent a redundant system that can increase the inventory of retail space. In that case, the cost of implementing them may be hard to justify especially if a city center is having trouble filling existing inventory of storefronts on the streets. The 'convenience' of them isn't likely to help this situation. This is obvious here in my city where vacancy rates in the skywalks are nearly 40%. People are clearly making a choice with their feet and choosing the vibrancy of the sidewalks.

    The skywalks that were implemented here were done so as a trendy response to the urban flight of the 60s. I'm fairly certain they were trying to replicate the "pedestrian experience" you find at the outlying malls of that time.

    Just like we don't run water pipes right through a ventilation duct, it also makes sense to not run people through conditions best suited for cars.
    I have to disagree with you. We're talking about dense urban centers where congestion really is part of the mix and adds to the vibrancy of the area. I really don't believe these are conditions 'best suited for cars'. They're best suited for pedestrians and IMO should emphasize convenience for them at a level above that for cars.

  7. #32
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    Well, think about it. Traffic lights stop for two reasons: to allow traffic flowing the other direction to go. And to let pedestrians at the intersection get across to the other side. If there are less pedestrians, traffic lights would not have to account for as much foot traffic. If the lights have to be changed for a shorter amount of time, capacity can go up a bit. Also, if foot traffic is significantly less and there is a stretch of road that is always congested, the city can cut back a bit on the sidewalk to squeeze in another lane of traffic.

    It's hard to compare other cities that have skyway systems to the Minneapolis/Saint Paul downtown areas. In numerous places it is documented that we have the largest system of them in the world. Because of this, people are much more bound to use them because they connect virtually everything, and take a shorter amount of time to get places instead of the sidewalks. In Minneapolis there are 62 blocks of skyway and in Saint Paul there are 30 blocks of skyway. In Spokane there are only 16 blocks of skyway.

    In terms of skyways, those in my fair cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul (right across the river from each other) connect far more buildings. If they connect more buildings and do a good job at competing with sidewalks, it is no wonder that they are thriving. To make an assumption off of the 16 blocks of skyway that Spokane has, I think that it is safe to say that the skyways don't connect as much and therefore aren't as convenient for people to use. If people can't get to most places or where they want in the skyway, chances are they won't use it and use the street like they always have.

    Skyways aren't a fly-by-night thing here. They've held strong for the past 50-or-so years and have strongly benefitted our two downtowns. But they require a significant investment, and if a city cuts back the plans on a skyway system, it certainly won't be as successful. They HAVE to connect ALL the major buildings in order to work well. I believe that a certain set of factors were all just right to make the skyway system so successful in Minneapolis and Saint Paul that now they are a thriving and vibrant part of the city. They were never a fly-by-night thing, and certainly not something done to be "trendy."

  8. #33
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Since you are a daily user of the Minneapolis/St Paul skywalks, you are much better suited to determine their effectiveness. From your ancedotal evidence, maybe they are good in Minneapolis/St. Paul - extensive and highly trafficed.

    But, maybe, this can be used as an example of how things can work in one place, but not another. It appears that Minn/StP has made a concerted effort to make sure the skywalks work, whereas in other places is was, potentially, half-arsed.

    I still hold to my belief that they are too sterile for me. I prefer being outside.

    Anyways, what's the big deal with 6 mins versus 15 mins? I guess I'm more laid back than some.

    Also, if foot traffic is significantly less and there is a stretch of road that is always congested, the city can cut back a bit on the sidewalk to squeeze in another lane of traffic.
    At the risk of sound mean, I find this a very backwards problem-solving. If one is to reduce the sidewalk widths, just to get more vehicular capacity, one might as well put all the walkers in the tubes and make the streets complete highways.

    You're not an engineer, are you?
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

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  9. #34
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    what not to do

    Quote Originally posted by The Shadoe
    It's hard to compare other cities that have skyway systems to the Minneapolis/Saint Paul downtown areas. In numerous places it is documented that we have the largest system of them in the world. Because of this, people are much more bound to use them because they connect virtually everything, and take a shorter amount of time to get places instead of the sidewalks.

    Skyways aren't a fly-by-night thing here. They've held strong for the past 50-or-so years and have strongly benefitted our two downtowns. But they require a significant investment, and if a city cuts back the plans on a skyway system, it certainly won't be as successful. "
    You've answered your own question, it's because other places haven't invested the energy, planning or money M/SP has.

    Akron, OH is a good example of what not to do. Their collection of skyways built to connect private and government office buildings over the years is an ongoing maintenance headache. They're hot in the summer, cold in the winter, leak in the rain and the mechanical systems are constantly under repair.

    Most users are workers who shuffle between buildings, and the walkways are only accessible during business hours. Since 9/11 there are security guards and locked doors at some entrances. The newest was built exclusively to move court employees from a beaux arts style courthouse across the street to the concrete slab garage. Another attached to an art deco former department store is a windowless box two stories high. They have the architectural appeal of double wides strung between buildings.

  10. #35
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Q. Which is correct bump this thread or start a new one ?

    Article from the Louiville Courier-Journal today -
    Skywalks lose cities' support

    "More cities are realizing that skywalks are not what they were cut out to be," said Fred Kent, president of Project for Public Spaces, a New York City nonprofit organization that helps communities create and sustain public places. "Instead of drawing additional people and retail to a second level, skywalks have left streets lifeless, presenting a cold and alienating environment."

    "Having people on the streets sends the message that downtown is a safe and fun place to be," said Marya Morris, senior research associate with the American Planning Association.

    SKYWALK PLANS

    Baltimore: Removed two of nine skywalks; letting others stand for now.

    Cincinnati: Removed three of 22 skywalks in downtown redevelopment and reconstruction; two of the remaining 19 are unused because buildings they connected to system were torn down. Sections linking office buildings remain popular with workers.

    Charlotte, N.C.: Planners would like to take down some of 13 skywalks to promote street-level retail; corporate, retail tenants leasing space in the skywalk-linked buildings oppose efforts.

    Des Moines, Iowa: Extending system of almost 4 miles that remains popular with city officials, businesses and office workers.

    Hartford, Conn.: Removed two of 10 skywalks; implemented shuttle system to help keep people at street level.

    Kansas City, Mo.: One of three downtown skywalks is coming down.

    Louisville: The new Marriott Louisville Downtown has skywalk connections to the Kentucky International Convention Center -- which spans Third Street.
    Oddball
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  11. #36
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by AubieTurtle
    In Atlanta they're called "Honky Tubes".
    Ha ha, I love it! That must work nicely with the MARTA (Moving Africans Rapidly Through Atlanta) system. At least the city seemed/seems to embrace its segregation

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