Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: Sidewalk width question [was: Help!!!]

  1. #1

    Sidewalk width question [was: Help!!!]

    I am an economics student and I am working on a detailed analysis of the economic benefits of asymmetrical urban design plans. Essentially, I am trying to find examples of streets around the world that have one sidewalk that is significantly bigger than the opposing sidewalk and they both have retail. For instance, maybe the northern sidewalk is 35' in width and the southern sidewalk is 17' in width. This is the last class I need to get my economics degree so if anyone could help me I would really appreciate being pointed in the right direction. I already know that St. Patricks Street in Cork, Ireland meets this standard, but I need at least 8 more streets to do my comparative analysis. Thanks in advance everyone!!

    Dave

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Dec 2006
    Location
    midwest
    Posts
    2,789
    Find some examples in Denver. Does it need to be an existing urban neighborhood or could you include an outlet mall, lifestyle center, etc? In some cases, I have seen one side include a 20-25' sidewalk (with ample room for planters, benches, trash receptacles) and a carriage walk on the opposite side. However, the pavement for traffic is only wide enough for 1-2 secondary access lanes and would not include on-street parking (the car pavement area may only be 8'-10' for one-way and 18'-20' for two way. The side or rear would front onto the carriage walk itself. The primary entrance would be on another street that runs perpendicular or parallel to the street with the 20-25' sidewalk (yes, this is hard to describe without sketching out a site plan).

    More importantly, I don't think you can even make a correlation between economic benefits with urban design. I had a similar idea for a ULI article a few years ago. I wanted to measure the economic benefits of individual components of design guidelines within a community: if benches are placed in a streetscape, revenue/EAV would increase by a multiplier or if awnings are placed in windows, property values would increase by "x". My mentor affrirmed my doubts on putting pricetags on urban design items. There are many different types of factors beyond urban design that determines economic impacts: housing market, proximity of competitors, transportation infrastructure, tax rates, etc.

    Even if we provided you eight examples, I doubt any of us would be able to provide the additional economic information. You would need to dig this up.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  3. #3
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Colo Front Range
    Posts
    2,391
    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    Find some examples in Denver. Does it need to be an existing urban neighborhood or could you include an outlet mall, lifestyle center, etc? In some cases, I have seen one side include a 20-25' sidewalk (with ample room for planters, benches, trash receptacles) and a carriage walk on the opposite side. However, the pavement for traffic is only wide enough for 1-2 secondary access lanes and would not include on-street parking (the car pavement area may only be 8'-10' for one-way and 18'-20' for two way. The side or rear would front onto the carriage walk itself. The primary entrance would be on another street that runs perpendicular or parallel to the street with the 20-25' sidewalk (yes, this is hard to describe without sketching out a site plan).

    More importantly, I don't think you can even make a correlation between economic benefits with urban design. I had a similar idea for a ULI article a few years ago. I wanted to measure the economic benefits of individual components of design guidelines within a community: if benches are placed in a streetscape, revenue/EAV would increase by a multiplier or if awnings are placed in windows, property values would increase by "x". My mentor affrirmed my doubts on putting pricetags on urban design items. There are many different types of factors beyond urban design that determines economic impacts: housing market, proximity of competitors, transportation infrastructure, tax rates, etc.

    Even if we provided you eight examples, I doubt any of us would be able to provide the additional economic information. You would need to dig this up.
    Off the top of my head, I can't think of where in Denver they might look - maybe on Wynkoop by the station, or parts of Belmar maybe?

    Nonetheless, the analysis for economic impact would have to be on a WTP basis as I don't see how equivalent businesses exist in asymmetrical arrangements and in proximity...Kathy Wolf at UW Seattle has done a WTP for urban design with well-canopied and attractive landscaping, and there is a study in NY-NJ (USA) that found higher equilibrium rents with attractive landscaping, but that's all I can think of at the moment...

  4. #4
    Thanks for your input.

    My real goal is to show that retail spaces on the shorter side of a sidewalk do not suffer economcally from having reduced spaces in which to expand their stores or more specifically their patios. I agree that urban design elements do not make or break the economic vitality of a specific area, accept in regard to traffic flow, pedestrian access, and other intrinsic factors that are really not calculated in an economic study. I am really just looking for example of streets so that I can contact the individual management authories or chambers of commerce in those cities and get the economic data that I need.

    Dave

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Dec 2006
    Location
    midwest
    Posts
    2,789
    But again, HOW are you going to make a justifiable connection between the sidewalk width and economic benefits? Sure, you could gather raw data and make some charts and graphs, but I am very skeptical about the level of significance between the two variables.

    If I am reading your second post correctly, it sounds like you trying to prove or disprove a null hypothesis: "sidewalk widths do not have any impact on the economic benefits of a commercial development. And to prove my point, here are some tests that I ran on collected data." You are just trying to find a YES or NO rather than HOW MUCH.

    Finally, are you measuring the economic vitality of the commercial tenants or the property owners? Do you only want examples of strip commercial or do you also want commercial outlots? There may be cases in both which have different sidewalk widths on either side of the paved access area. In strip commercial,you would have one developer with individual tenants (or property owners). However, only the overall developer is responsible for the site, including the sidewalk paving, maintenance, etc. In commercial outlots, there is one overall developer, but the commercial site is subdivided and platted to individual outlots. The owners of the individual lots may also be responsible for paving/maintenance of the sidewalks themselves. Examples of commercial outlots would be the standalone restauarants, banks, cafes, pharmacies that would surround an anchor tenant, such as big box retail.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  6. #6
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Colo Front Range
    Posts
    2,391
    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    But again, HOW are you going to make a justifiable connection between the sidewalk width and economic benefits? Sure, you could gather raw data and make some charts and graphs, but I am very skeptical about the level of significance between the two variables.

    If I am reading your second post correctly, it sounds like you trying to prove or disprove a null hypothesis: "sidewalk widths do not have any impact on the economic benefits of a commercial development. And to prove my point, here are some tests that I ran on collected data." You are just trying to find a YES or NO rather than HOW MUCH.

    Finally, are you measuring the economic vitality of the commercial tenants or the property owners? Do you only want examples of strip commercial or do you also want commercial outlots? There may be cases in both which have different sidewalk widths on either side of the paved access area. In strip commercial,you would have one developer with individual tenants (or property owners). However, only the overall developer is responsible for the site, including the sidewalk paving, maintenance, etc. In commercial outlots, there is one overall developer, but the commercial site is subdivided and platted to individual outlots. ...
    I'm with ya. I don't see how to isolate a variable and keep everything else equal - the mix won't be the same, tenancy persistence, parking access, sales/sf across sectors, wider sidewalks in the shade on the north/west side of a street fostering more tables for eating establishments (and what size tables, and is liquor served, and what is the average price of a meal-table stay)...surely a prof in econ or planning there at (presumably) DU can shed some light on these difficulties...

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    9,920
    It is an interesting idea, but I have to agree with the others in saying that I do not see an easy way to isolate the other variables. To add to this, you use an example of 35 feet and 17 feet. Arguably, both of these sidewalks are large enough to allow outdoor display and/or seating. What about a more typical situation, where you could have 5 feet on one side of the street and 15 feet on the other? Size would seem to matter here.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Albany, NY
    Posts
    4

    Lots of places have vairable width pedestrian walkways

    Hi, Dave -- I was thinking of Albany, NY's Maiden Lane, a small ancient street that is only a few hundred feet long -- a throw back to the city's 1600's founding. Then I thought about some alleyways in Europe -- Linz, Germany -- a gated old city on the Rhine, Bonn, and Cologne. They all have odd throw-back plazas and sidewalks here and there that aren't symmetrical. But -- a large part of the reason they are asymmetrical is that private shop owners have more or less open space in front of their properties, and the deeds go way back before the automobile. Heck, some of these streets forbid autos except during off hours, and then, just for service and delivery vehicles. I also think there are parts of London and other places in the UK where the sidewalks on opposing sides of the streets are asymmetric.

    Now to the USA -- Of course Boston has narrow old streets, and I think some of them are asymmetric, as are some of the side streets in Newport -- but they aren't so significant.

    Here are some significant suggestions for your analysis:

    1) In many urban areas, wherever there are open air cafes and private front yards or stoops, the pedestrian accessible part of the sidewalks widen and narrow. There may be an "official" minimum sidewalk width, but even then, with variances cafes and others have been allowed to encroach on that easement. Look at Manhattan, Brooklyn, Rome, Paris, Florence, Capri, and you'll see that there is often a loose application of easement widths.

    2) I do remember walking through the alleyways of some ancient villages in Spain and Italy, and I seem to remember that south side sidewalks were wider than north side sidewalks as pedestrians preferred to walk in the shade than in the hot sun. I think there were also places in Japan and other parts of Asia where this was also true, too. The same logic -- that pedestrians would be more comfortable walking in the shade would also apply to wider northern side sidewalks in the Southern Hemisphere. (Anyone here familiar with Southern Hemisphere settings?) So as a sun-sensitive planner, you would plan for taller buildings to block the sun on the south side of the street, and would widen the sidewalks there so more pedestrians could stroll in the shade. On the north side of the street which would be illuminated by hot sun, you would have a network of passageways and portals opening onto courtyards and arcades that would be sanctuaries from the heat and glare. There are no rules of good design prohibiting asymmetric sidewalk widths and so let functionality be your guide.

  9. #9
    If you're still looking for sidewalk info, you might want to check out Allen Jacob's book "Great Streets"

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Zoning Minimum lot width
    Land Use and Zoning
    Replies: 7
    Last post: 16 Jun 2009, 12:13 PM
  2. Lot width and front yard setbacks
    Land Use and Zoning
    Replies: 4
    Last post: 20 Feb 2008, 8:32 AM
  3. Depth to width issue
    Land Use and Zoning
    Replies: 7
    Last post: 14 Feb 2007, 10:57 PM
  4. Replies: 21
    Last post: 02 Jun 2005, 5:04 PM
  5. Wireless facilities Cell tower width
    Land Use and Zoning
    Replies: 7
    Last post: 01 Dec 2004, 12:36 PM