Super Sidewalk - a new design element in urban planning

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Stine Alberte Sif Bundgaard Sørensen
  • Lise Vandet Weesgaard
4. term, Transport Engineering, Master (Master Programme)
In the urban area, the space is limited due to urbanisation, with more people moving to the city. This will generate a larger amount of traffic, which will require more space on the roads. More cars will cause greater pollution, and therefore it is important to make comfortable and secure solutions for pedestrians and bicycles. Today, the planning of pedestrian facilities requires several manuals, where details might be overlooked when including all pedestrian types. This can cause problems for the most vulnerable pedestrians such as impaired people, older people and children. Furthermore, sidewalks are often given the leftover space, as the planning for cars, buses, parked cars and bicycles is being prioritised. This often results in pedestrians only getting a narrow sidewalk, without opportunities to pass others or make a stopover. A simple term called Super Sidewalk, introduced by Via Trafik, shall help prioritising the pedestrians. This term is different from a normal sidewalk as it offers the user an experience while using the sidewalk, rather than only using it as a lane to walk from A to B. Here plants, street lights, and design shall create a high-quality urban area and make the users feel safe and secure. The term Cycle Super Highways has proven to be a successful way to prioritise bicycles and give them better accessibility, which has led to more people choosing the bicycle instead of the car.

This project is based on creating more focus on the pedestrians and their area while planning for the cross section of the road. It is searching to investigate if the term Cycle Super Highway can be applied to the pedestrian areas as well, under the term Super Sidewalks.
A case study is made on an existing street, M. P. Bruuns Gade in Aarhus, to explore whether a Super Sidewalk could be a beneficial solution for the street. Furthermore, the case study shall be used to make general guidelines for future use of Super Sidewalks.
The method used is a behaviour analysis of pedestrians, where every interaction that causes traffic security problems or congestion problems is noted. In addition, pedestrians making stopovers on the sidewalk, either standing or sitting, are noted as well. Video cameras are used to record the pedestrians in four different sectional views for 10 hours each, to give the most realistic indication of the pedestrian behaviour.

The analysis showed a correlation between the width of the sidewalk and the pedestrian behaviour. When the sidewalk was narrow, pedestrians used the roadway to pass others when congestion occurred on the sidewalk. This can cause unsafe situations, which can lead to accidents between bicycles, cars, busses or heavy traffic and pedestrians. Furthermore, the analysis showed a need for more benches and places to take breaks without being in the way for others.

The suggested solution for the Municipality of Aarhus is to make a Super Sidewalk with a 4,5 m wide sidewalk, where pedestrians and buses are prioritised at the expense of cars and bicycles. It is not possible to prioritise every type of road user, when the space is limited, and therefore the prioritisation must be made. The buses will have 6 m of roadway and will be stopping directly by the kerb, which will function as a traffic calming measure. On the sidewalk, living areas with benches, street lights and plants should be made to create a better urban area with opportunities to take breaks and interact with other people.

For future planning of Super Sidewalks, general guidelines are established. Here the width of the sidewalk is set to be minimum 3 m so passes and stopovers can take place. Green living areas to meet and take breaks should be made to create a liveable street. The history of the area should be integrated in the design to give the street an image and create an experience for the user. In addition, the speed limit should be reduced to 40 km/h or less.
Publication date7 Jun 2019
Number of pages113
External collaboratorVia Trafik
Civilingeniør Morten Lind Jensen
ID: 305326079