Rethinking Urban Spaces: Innovative Design Ideas for Safer and More Productive Cities

terracast Blog

Urban spaces are changing before our very eyes. Ongoing research continues to prove that our current urban spaces are unsafe and often lead to social problems. It is so important that we rethink urban design because it’s actually rather dangerous not to. In fact, as of 2013, over 270,000 pedestrians lost their lives on our roadways, making up 22% of the 1.24 million deaths that occur out on the road each year.

6 Ways to Rethink Urban Spaces for the Better

We’ve been fortunate enough to work on some large projects, including NYC’s Times Square renovation, in which unsafe and unproductive spaces were transformed into safer and better spaces for everyone.

Here are some of our favorite ideas for rethinking urban spaces and turning them into safer and more productive areas.

#1. Make Pedestrian Bike Lane Safety a Top Priority 

Urban areas are overwhelmed by vehicles, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Biking, riding scooters and walking are equally good ways to get around in downtown areas where everything is located within walking distance. This is often more convenient compared to how much time it takes to find parking in crowded urban areas.

How do you convince more people to walk or ride a bike than to get in their car and drive? For one, you have to make pedestrian safety a top priority so that people feel safe enough to navigate the streets without the protection of their automobile.

Take a look at the Mayor of Myrtle Beach who will tell people to go back to the drawing board if they try to get plans approved that do not include points on improving biker and pedestrian safety. 

Studies that have been conducted across several major cities have found that injuries decrease and cycling increases after cities implement connected networks of bike lanes, including off-street trails.  Keep in mind, the best cycling networks connect residential areas to schools, shopping, parks and public transportation.

#2. Plant Trees & Add Flowers

Greenery is crucial to overall wellbeing and happiness, not just for people but for the environment as well. Trees help filter out pollutants, and we know there’s no shortage of pollution in urban areas. Plus, one study based in the UK found that vehicles drive slower down tree-lined streets. Slower traffic equates to less risk of danger or fatality for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as drivers.

Planters offer the perfect solution to add greenery to tricky spaces – such as a concrete jungle that is void of soil. You might be surprised just how large planters can come, big enough to grow a good-sized tree.

Shop the same planters used in Times Square New York – they are affordable, durable, and can stand up to serious wear and tear

#3. Compacted Cities Are Safer

Research shows us that sprawling cities, such as Atlanta, are home to more automobile accidents than compact cities like Tokyo. That’s because sprawling cities make it so that people have to drive to get from one side of the city to the other. On the other hand, compact cities where dense housing sits right beside shopping and public transportation, promotes people to walk instead of drive.

#4. Reduce Automobile Speeds

You can make cities safer by reducing posted speed limits. In fact, lower speed limits (around 25-30 miles per hour or lower) have proven to dramatically decrease the risk of fatal accidents. As posted speed limits increase, so too does the rate of pedestrian deaths. Low-speed zones along with the addition of raised pedestrian crossings and curb extensions are some ideas to accomplish this.

#5. Make More Pedestrian-Friendly Spaces

People crave a place where they can sit, hang out, and congregate with others. The more pedestrian-friendly spaces an area has, the more appealing it is to everyone – from locals to tourists. Vehicle access should be restricted in these areas to further promote the safety of everyone who frequents the area.

#6. Carefully Track Data & Act On It

Records of all accidents, injuries, or even spikes in crime should be assessed on a regular basis to determine why certain areas are more prone than others. From there, plans can be put into place to reduce the risk of crashes and other types of safety hazards.

We Want to Help Improve Your City!

TerraCast is on a mission to make urban spaces better than ever. Our planters, lighting fixtures, bollards, and other durable products are featured in some of the most noteworthy city renovations. Our bollards make bike lanes safer, while our resin-based planters can last a lifetime and make your city greener.

Wondering how we can help your project? Contact us today!