Pedestrianisation: The Guide to Keeping Pedestrians & Cyclists Safe



18 Jan, 2024

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    18 Jan, 2024

    Protecting and keeping pedestrians and cyclists safe is a very different prospect to securing assets or infrastructure. Pedestrians and cyclists are not fixed, they move from area to area. Security measures need to be permeable and maintain a welcoming atmosphere, they must not create alarm or unease.

    Pedestrianisation Schemes: The Definitive Guide

    1. Pedestrianisation Definition
    2. The Impact of Coronavirus on Pedestrianisation
    3. Does Pedestrianisation Work?
    4. Pedestrianisation Pros and Cons
    5. Pedestrian Safety
    6. Improving Cycle Lanes & Protecting Cyclists

    Pedestrianisation Definition

    What does pedestrianisation mean?

    Firstly, before we get into its benefits, what do we mean by pedestrianisation?

    In the simplest terms, pedestrianisation is the process of removing or restricting vehicle access to a street or public area for the exclusive or prioritised use of pedestrians.

    Not all pedestrianisation schemes will be the same though. Here are the three main types that you will find –

    • Full-time pedestrian streets

    This is where vehicles are completely forbidden and restricted from entering a designated pedestrianised zone with only emergency vehicles allowed to enter. In schemes like this usually, services are accessible using the back of a street or area.

    • Part-time pedestrian streets

    With part-time pedestrianised zones, vehicles are only granted access to the area during specific hours or days. There is no on-street parking allowed but loading bays are available.

    • Traffic calming streets

    The third form of pedestrianisation is traffic calming zones. These areas serve to reduce the dominance and speed of road vehicles. There are no restrictions to vehicle access, but footpaths are widened, and parking spaces are reduced.

    Various traffic calming measures are used to slow down the speed of vehicles. They include speed tables, narrower traffic lanes and use of different road textures and colours to remind drivers that they are within traffic calming zones.

    The Impact of Coronavirus on Pedestrianisation

    Due to the impact of COVID-19, pedestrianisation became a hot topic in the UK with councils and local authorities being forced to consider the use of pedestrianisation and extended cycle lanes to safely manage social distancing measures in built-up areas such as outside retail outlets.

    Commuters were encouraged to avoid public transportation and there were limits placed on train and bus travel on the number of passengers allowed to board at any one time to honour 2-metre social distancing rules.

    With these changes enforced, it became imperative that pedestrian walking routes and cycle lanes into our towns and cities were made to be safe and easily accessible, and segregated successfully from vehicles.

    Following the pandemic, new flexible working patterns emerged, resulting in many offices moving staff to work from home on a full-time or part-time basis. This reduced some of the pressure on public transportation services and our road networks at the time. In 2023, public transport passenger numbers were increasing, but had yet to hit pre-pandemic levels.

    Does Pedestrianisation Work?

    Pedestrianisation can be a complex and sometimes controversial process, though it is widely seen to be beneficial.

    Successful pedestrianisation schemes require meticulous urban planning as the scale involved in some of these projects is substantial.

    Pedestrianisation can place pressure on public transport such as ‘Park and Ride’ systems and is reliant on good transportation links outside of city and town centres.

    It also requires effective parking facilities so that motorist can drive to the outskirts of a city or town and then rely on public transport, cycle lanes or pedestrian routes to get to their destination.

    For temporary pedestrianisation or pedestrianisation trials, at best it relies on the ability to set-up vehicle diversions or alternative routes for vehicles entering a city or town.

    Pedestrianisation Pros and Cons

    While we have touched on some of the benefits of pedestrianisation in previous sections, how do they stack up against its disadvantages? Let’s first take a look at some of the main advantages it provides.

    Pedestrianisation Benefits

    There are various reasons for having Pedestrianisation schemes. First, pedestrianisation aims to improve a pedestrian’s safety and mobility.

    • Safety benefits

    In its guidance on pedestrian safety, the World Health Organisation finds that pedestrianisation not only improves safety for pedestrians but also contributes to lower levels of noise and air pollution.

    After the pedestrianisation of Times Square, New York, pedestrian activity went up by 11% with 35% fewer pedestrian accidents and 63% less vehicular accidents.

    • Environmental benefits

    Another important benefit is related to the environment. These schemes can help to reduce both noise and pollution by discouraging or restricting the access of non-essential vehicles.

    Furthermore, it helps to promote walking as a transport mode by making the walking experience more enjoyable.

    The last one means that pedestrianisation creates a pleasant environment that people can involve in different social, cultural and tourism activities as well.

    • Economic benefits

    There have also been links to show that pedestrianisation can improve the economic growth of an area due to increased consumer retail spend, increased rents able to be charged for units within a pedestrianised street and the reduction of economic losses caused through air pollution.

    In New York’s iconic Time Square, pedestrianisation improved economic performance by 22% between 2007 and 2011. While in London’s Oxford Circus, pedestrianisation stimulated a 25% increase in turnover for the shops in the area.

    Pedestrianisation Problems

    Pedestrianisation isn’t without its own problems and challenges. Here are the most important ones to consider.

    • Disruption

    Schemes if permanent are often quite substantial in scale and involve traffic and construction disruption in the short-medium term which can create hostility towards a scheme.

    • Pressure on public transport and car park infrastructure

    Pedestrianisation cannot be successfully implemented in isolation of improvements to public transportation systems, promotion, and investment.

    • Alienating key stakeholders

    If not thought about or catered for, stakeholders relying on vehicle transport such as delivery drivers, emergency service vehicles, taxis or groups unable to travel using public transport will feel alienated.

    What is required for a successful pedestrianisation scheme?

    Improving the conditions and inviting more people to use bicycles (or walk or use public transport) requires:

    • Above all, safety
    • Infrastructure and means (enough public bicycles, trains, buses etc)
    • Active promotion
    • Signage to provide clear instruction and remove ambiguity
    • Alternative routes for vehicles visiting the city to ensure successful segregation
    • Protection for crowded spaces using security barriers/products in line with the latest government advice

    Pedestrian Safety

    Pedestrian Safety Golden Rules Graphic

    A key part of any successful pedestrianisation scheme is pedestrian safety. So why is pedestrian safety so important?

    When creating a pedestrianised area, you are signalling to pedestrians that when within that area, they do not need to be aware of any approaching vehicles and do not need to stay on pavement or in a specific zone. They are free to roam as they have total priority.

    If there is any ambiguity or a possibility that vehicles may be able to ignore pedestrianisation measures to cut through or take a short cut, pedestrian safety is at risk of an accidental impact or worse, an intentional vehicle as a weapon attack.

    What solutions do you need for pedestrian safety?

    If a pedestrian area is a ‘full-time pedestrian street’, measures need to be put into place to permanently exclude vehicles from the area.

    If very occasional access is required by vehicles either annually or seasonally, measures can be made semi-permanent to accommodate this very occasional access if required.

    • Bollards, Barriers & Street Furniture

    For part-time pedestrian streets, traffic management measures may be advisable to deploy during specific times when vehicles are restricted.

    Rising bollards integrated with access control measures or implemented on a timer system can work to protect pedestrians and keep them safe whilst also allowing vehicles during dedicated delivery or access times.

    Emergency service vehicles can be provided with ‘master’ access control devices which can lower measures in the event of an incident within a vehicle restricted zone.

    Traffic calming measures must consider the safety of cyclist, vehicles and pedestrians which will all have access to the same area at any one time within this type of scheme.

    Traffic calming measures may help to reduce vehicle speeds and increase the distances between pedestrians, vehicles, and cyclists but, for added safety, a physical barrier or landscaping for segregation and demarcation for the three different road users would be advisable.

    It may be preferable to install a line of static, pedestrian bollards along the pavement to protect pedestrians from accidental wayward vehicles.

    • Signage

    No pedestrianisation or cycle-friendly scheme can be successful without clear signage and physical demarcation of areas being implemented. It is the key to a successful and safe scheme.

    Barriers and other solutions can be vinyl wrapped or customised to blend into an area and be part of any messaging or signage for a newly pedestrianised area.

    Improving Cycle Lanes & Protecting Cyclists

    Protecting Cyclists Graphic

    Cyclist safety is also an important consideration as more people are encouraged to return to work and city centres.

    As part of any potential scheme, improvement to existing cycles lanes as well as temporary or ‘pop-up’ cycle lanes need to be considered.

    What are temporary or pop-up cycle lanes?

    These are newly marked temporary arrangements by councils to facilitate more cycle travel in and out of city centres.

    They range from simple line marking through to protected segregation of vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists using a highway compliant product like our Multi Applicational Safety System-MASS.

    What are the main considerations when planning these temporary or extended lanes?

    Safe segregation and compliance with traffic signs and regulations are the key considerations when contemplating the installation of a temporary scheme.

    The scheme must be designed to ensure cyclist, pedestrians and other road users can easily understand the route to take without placing them in direct conflict with each other.

    Are there safety considerations for planners when looking at such schemes?

    Planners need to take account of existing pedestrian routes which may then have to cross a temporary cycle lane, these areas of conflict require careful consideration to avoid collisions between road users.

    Clear road markings for cyclists and protection of tactile crossing areas to ensure the safety of the visually impaired are also key considerations for planners.

    Are there any security implications for extended cycle lanes?  

    Additional cycle lanes do not by themselves present an increased security risk unless one was pre-existing.

    If a currently protected lane is widened then the security around that lane will also require extending to maintain the protection currently in place.

    The terrorist threat level applicable to the UK has reduced to ‘Substantial’ since many protected cycleways were installed; this means an attack to the UK from terrorism is classified as ‘Likely’.

    Next Steps

    If you are currently planning security for a public space, ATG Access would be happy to talk to you about your requirements.

    No one size fits all, some measures may be necessary or appropriate in one location, and not in another. Our experts can help you assess your risk and look at achieving your safety and security objectives to encourage visitors and workers into cities and town centres, safely.

    It would be great if our cities better integrated the needs of pedestrians and cyclists in order to create usable, safe spaces for all. We have seen the community and environmental benefits that this balance brought during the lockdown restrictions imposed back in 2020.