March 29, 2006

Woman Struck, Killed While Exercise Walking

" A 54-year-old Wellesley woman died yesterday after being hit by a pickup truck on Dover Street, Natick Police said," the MetroWest Daily News reports. "The residential street in South Natick near the Natick/Dover border has no sidewalks, and neighbors said it has become a cut-through street. "

This is the terrible danger when traffic volume increases and there are no design accommodations made to 1) slow it down and 2) safely share the road among pedestrians and cyclists as well as vehicular traffic.

March 28, 2006

Lowes Takes Shape

It looks like the Lowes on Rte. 30 in Framingham is taking shape. I remain disappointed that the Planning Board didn't push to have the store up to the street in a pedestrian-friendly fashion. Right near the main post office, this could have actually encouraged some foot traffic between the two, instead of keeping to the typical suburban-sprawl pattern.

From what I can see, that looks like a pretty large building for the parcel it's on, and I'm not sure how the parking is going to work (although I do recall reading something about a parking garage and/or rooftop parking. I don't recall what the final vote sought). Looking at that small area of retail -- with Stop & Shop, the Target mall, BJs and now Lowes, it's a crying shame that they all couldn't have been placed up at the street in a pedestrian-friendly manner, with shared parking behind all the buildings. It would have dramatically improved the streetscape, encouraged more nearby office workers to walk there, and required less overall parking for all uses.

‘Does This Sound Like Your Community, Your Life?’

"What would it be like if the pace were a little slower, if the physical surroundings made you want to be on the street with others, if the variety of uses on the street enabled you to get multiple chores done in a small area, yet you had all the conveniences of the modern day world?"

So asks Bill Steiner who is leading a planners' tour to Orvieto, Italy. He describes Orvieto as "a city instructive in how to develop physical spaces and cultural support for people-friendly cities":
• Government policy is overtly designed to enhance quality of life, seen as the city's greatest asset
• Streets are alive with people
• Courses are offered on building quality of life
• State law excludes gas stations from the city center
• Local law prohibits fast food and big box retail from locating in the center city
• Families routinely eat dinner together
• Homes are not locked

Now there are plenty of good reasons I've chosen to remain living in the U.S. instead of moving to Europe. There's a lot I love about American life, and I am NOT claiming that Europe is "superior" to America. But I do believe there are aspects of the lifestyle in some areas of Europe that we might learn from, and adapt to our American communities that could indeed improve our quality of life. And I think people-friendly, pedestrian-appealing public spaces is definitely one of them. Human-scaled development vs. designing for optimum auto flow is considered important in more communities of Europe than it seems to be here. But one doesn't preclude the other.

March 26, 2006

From Ireland: Reclaiming the Streets

Some interesting thoughts from across the pond regarding the importance of long-ignored public space, and what it means to a successful community.

"We may not yet have succumbed to the private nirvana of consumption that is Daslu — Sao Paolo’s luxury boutique, where, because the rich do not walk, you cannot enter off the street but must arrive by car (or helicopter) and pass through a security checkpoint — but Dundrum Town Centre betrays some of its less appealing characteristics: it is a self- referential walled city, cut off from the devastated heart of Dundrum village by a moat of traffic," Shane O'Toole writes of a Dublin development in yesterday's Times of London. "In contrast, city centre retail developments have generally sought to extend the surrounding network of urban connections to create new urban routes."

Sound familiar? How many of you have ever arrived by foot to the Natick Mall? Shoppers World? The Framingham megaplex theater?

"Cities have to be theatres for public life, not just machines for production. The city should be curated as a work of art or managed as a great theatre," O'Toole argues. "All successful cities across Europe and the US, from Barcelona, with its myriad small public spaces and support for street spectacle, to New York, where Central Park was turned around over the past generation from a city-owned antisocial space to a place of public 'happenings', managed and programmed by a private trust, learnt the same lesson.

"Public space can be reclaimed to regenerate the economic and social life of urban areas. But it must feel safe, comfortable and pedestrian-friendly."

That also holds true for any redevelopment plans that hope to succeed in downtown Framingham.

"Public is a bad word in Ireland right now. The public sector is denigrated as the private sector is lauded," he says. That's even more true in the current American political discourse. But we ignore public space at our peril.

Swan! … and Slowing Down

I'm sure I wasn't imagining it. Yesterday, I was driving by the pond off Elm Street near Saxonville center, and I did indeed see a beautiful white swan. I wasn't able to stop, but did slow down for a good look. What a pleasant surprise on a dismal, grey, raw day!

Alas, I went back on foot this morning, and the swan was gone. Which just goes to prove again that some of the unexpected, joyful gifts nature offers us are fleeting indeed. And sometimes, even if you get to enjoy nature while driving, it's even better if you can slow down, stop, and see it outside of the sealed, metal environment that is your car. I sure wish I'd been able to pull over, get out, and give that gorgeous creature a much longer look.

Which brings me to a stream-of-consciousness related point -- you definitely experience your community differently in a vehicle and on foot. Now there's nothing inherently wrong with driving; it lets you go so many more places than you could if your only alternative was walking. But I think it's unfortunate if the only way you ever experience your community is in a motorized vehicle. There are things you miss, from chatting with the neighbors to seeing little details that simply whiz by in a blur when you're driving 30+ mph.

Sometimes we lose sight of that in a multi-tasking culture where cramming more and more, faster and faster, into all available time tends to be prized a lot more than deliberation, contemplation and slowing down. I'm reading the book Sabbath by Wayne Muller, and he's got some fascinating points on the need to balance striving with occasionally slowing down. He also asks:

"What is the true measure of the wealth of a people? The creation and preservation of beauty? A strong and healthy citizenry? An educated and compassionate leadership, ensuring justice for all? A palpable sense of civic joy? A collective sense that serving our neighbor is our highest civic good? Sadly, none of these rises to the top of our list. By current standards, the Holy Grail on the altar of civilization is the health of the economy, measured by the G.D.P. Economic growth is the measure of a life well lived, a nation well run, a civilization well built."

Without a doubt, money and prosperity matter - they certainly do to me. But so do other things. At the global level, is it truly beyond dispute that citizens of one nation, which has 3.7% economic growth and the average worker gets 2 weeks of vacation a year, are better off than citizens of another nation, which has 3.4% economic growth but workers get 6 weeks off each year?

On the local level, so much discussion lately has been about property values, tax rates, and growth. Now I happen to be a homeowner, and care a lot about the value of my life's largest financial investment as well as how much I have to pay each year to inhabit the house I'm still paying off. But there is more to quality of life in my community than can be measured in my checkbook. I would MUCH rather have paid a few more dollars a year in taxes to have had a beautiful new branch library in my community, a place that would have been a communal education/gathering center, a neighborhood anchor and a source of great civic pride. That was so worth the $12/year or whatever small amount it would have cost.

March 23, 2006

Government Structure, and Community

I've got a column in today's MetroWest Daily News arguing that Framingham needs a change in its structure of government. While I admire most of those now serving in representative Town Meeting, I believe the town has reached that un-sweet spot where precincts are too large to be "neighborhoods" where everyone knows everyone else, but way too small to each have their own media outlets that can cover representative activities and allow voters to easily stay informed of what their reps are doing.

In fact, with a dozen reps per precinct, almost no recorded Town Meeting votes and the vast majority of precincts having no contested races on election day, the current government structure provides little accountability to the voters. The common refrain -- if you don't like it, you can run for Town Meeting yourself -- is disingenuous. Not everyone has the time, energy, ability, inclination or interest for the very intense commitment that is being an elected representative. People have family obligations and/or work obligations. Some take classes, or travel, or work in the evenings, or have child-care issues. Or frankly don't want to be in politics. Framingham Town Meeting is a lengthy and time-consuming affair. Those Town Meeting reps who are responsive to their precincts do so because they choose to and want to, but do so in spite of the structure of government, not because the structure demands it.

Framingham is a large, complex community facing issues that need full-time attention. I don't think a part-time legislative body comprised of hundreds of individuals is the best answer. Government structure isn't the only reason why so many nearby communities are ahead of Framingham in terms of downtown revitalization, but I do think it's a factor.

March 22, 2006

European-Style Bread Shop Opens in Framingham

Master bread maker Michael Rhoads, formerly of Boston's Sel de la Terre, has opened B&R Artisan Bread on Rte. 30, at the site of the former Bread Basket kosher bakery (151 Cochituate Road).

This is welcome news indeed for those of us who envy some European lifestyle habits such as walking to the local patisserie for a loaf of fabulously baked fresh bread. (Ah, now if we could only get a few real European cafes ... and European-style walkable neighborhoods....) Artisan bread bears about as much resemblance to factory-packaged stuff you buy in the supermarket, as an Oreo does to a North End cannoli.

Profiled today in the Boston Globe Food section, B&R "offers classic French breads and croissants, plus a range of American-style confections, including scones and muffins, all baked on-site. (When the bakery first opened, Rhoads rewarded customers who managed to find the place with free cookies.) The centerpiece is, naturally, the bread. On recent mornings, the shelves were stocked with pain levain ($8), a large, crusty, naturally leavened bread; light caraway rye rounds ($2.75), a European version of the New York classic; and buttery brioche baked in rectangular pans to make Pullman loaves ($6.50)," according to the review, French Bread, Framingham Location.

I'm hoping he'll also consider offering challah at some point, since a lot of Bread Basket customers miss having a local, non-chain source for the traditional Jewish delicacy (which some say is not unlike brioche).

"Rhoads, who so far has about 10 employees, sells his bread to several stores and restaurants around Boston," the article notes. "He hopes that his spot becomes a place for suburban dwellers to shop at regularly -- just as Europeans do. ''You go and get your bread every day,' he says. ''You make it a stop along the way.' " announced: "Baker Michael Rhoads, whose breads have graced the tables at some of the best restaurants in town (think: L’Espalier, Sel de la Terre and, most recently, Via Matta), reintroduces his artisan breads to Boston (well, technically, Framingham) with his new bakery, B & R Artisan Bread." Hours are reportedly 7 am to 6 pm on weekdays, and Saturdays 9 am to 2 pm. Plans for sandwiches are in the works eventually.

Update: I finally got to the store a few days after the Globe piece. The baguettes are incredible. I'll be back.

Framingham Planning Board Update

I've now had initial responses from all three Planning Board candidates to my questions.

Planning Board Chair Tom Mahoney has recently answered my specific questions on his Web site.

Challenger Stephen Meltzer responded in general to the questions on his Web site, and also sent me responses which are posted here as well as on his site.

Incumbent Carol Spack courteously responded that so far she has been very busy working on a major project, but tried to weave answers to those issues into her responses at a recent Candidates Night event, feeling that such events are a good way for residents to get answers to such issues.

As far as I can see, we have three strong candidates running for two open positions. I encourage local voters interested in where the candidates stand on issues discussed here, to take a look at the responses.

March 20, 2006

Fears of Development, Gentrification

"A few decades after it became a national symbol of urban decay, the Bronx is home to a rash of new construction projects that are changing neighborhoods that have seen little new building in half a century. Many residents are uneasy," the New York Times reported in a front-page story yesterday, Now Booming, Not Burning, the Bronx Fears a Downside.

It's a classic case of pondering the costs as well as benefits of soaring property values, and the impact on local residents who stuck it out through tough times, helped turn their neighborhoods around and then face being priced or forced out -- whether it's struggling artists who make an overlooked area trendy, only to be displaced by wealthier residents, or immigrants who start spiffing up a neighborhood only to see larger scale development displace them. I am often in favor of redevelopment, by the way. Nobody wants to save a crime-ridden ambiance, but it's also important to consider those who are already contributing positively to a community.

In the case of the Bronx, a major issue is "due to the dizzying speed of change," with some complaining not simply about the radical changes in neighborhoods, but how much is being done so quickly.

Many are thrilled that the Bronx is finally seeing the type of development that has long passed it by. "It's a good problem to have when the arguments that people are having are not so much 'Why is nothing happening?' but 'Why is so much happening and how can we absorb it?' " Bronx borough president Adolfo Carrión Jr. told the Times. And "dozens of residents who are critical of specific projects say they are not generally against new construction, saying their borough has been starved too long for restaurants, brand-name shops, even banks and grocery stores."

But there are definitely costs to a neighborhood for existing residents and businesses, as well as changing character.

The Times yesterday also looked at Hell's Kitchen, Swept Out and Remodeled -- a neighborhood I remember well from a summer working in then "transitional," now gentrified Columbus Circle in Manhattan. Unable to afford nearby pricy restaurants serving Fifth Avenue shopping clientele to the east, I'd often walk several blocks to the west to Hell's Kitchen where I could pick up a salad or sandwich for a fraction of typical Midtown Manhattan prices.

"Even during its worst times Hell's Kitchen was always, well, a neighborhood, made up of blue-collar families in walk-up tenements and theater people who wanted to live close to their jobs," the article notes. "But what the gangs and drugs couldn't do, gentrification is accomplishing — putting pressure to leave on those crusty characters who gave Hell's Kitchen its raffish charm."

Retired commercial artist Kostas Zimarakis, one of the many immigrants living in the neighborhood, was attracted to the areas for its friendliness, he told the Times, but now typically sees newer residents walking solo.

'They like their sense of privacy. I do not think they have an interest in getting to know people.' The change makes him feel lonelier, he said.

'You cannot talk to a building,' he said. 'But a person can make your day. It lights up your soul.'

March 19, 2006

Myrtle Beach Planners Seek Smarter Growth

"Many people have the misconception that smart growth means no growth and is anti-suburban, North Myrtle Beach planner Greg Lipscomb told a group of engineers and architects last week. But smart growth is really about well-planned growth that creates walkable neighborhoods, offers housing choices for everyone and preserves open space, he said," begins an article in the Sun News (S.C.), Planners Crave Smart Growth.

"Negative government attitudes toward density and regulations such as parking and firetruck sizes restrict builders trying to build traditional neighborhood developments, said Sam Burns, president of Dock Street Communities, which builds only traditional neighborhoods on the Grand Strand. 'Codes and regulations make it far easier to build shelter than to build neighborhoods,' he said."

Creating walkable neighborhoods (where it's actually appealing to walk to a destination besides your neighbor's house) often requires special permits, while sprawl is not only allowed by right but encouraged in local zoning codes. So, homebuyers looking for pedestrian-friendly environments are severely underserved by new construction outside of core urban ares.

Likewise, commercial development ends up as a pedestrian-hostile series of stand-alone strip malls set back from the road and surrounded by a sea of asphalt, where sidewalks may exist but no one wants to use them; and trying to cross the road feels uncomfortably like a death-defying dash (think Rte. 9 anywhere in Framingham).

Interestingly, Myrtle Beach planners "are starting to study how Kings Highway could be redeveloped to be more pedestrian friendly, with wider sidewalks, street trees and on-street parking, [planning director Jack] Walker said." I haven't seen Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach, but imagine it looks something like the commercial areas of Rte. 30 or Rte. 9 in Framingham. Ah, if only local planners had the same vision for Rte. 30 in Framingham, how much better the area around Target and Kohl's could have been.

I still can't stop imagining what it could have looked like to have the Target mall up at the sidewalk, with great landscaping between pedestrians and moving traffic, allowing the outdoor seating at Panera to create a boulevard feel. Similarly moving Shoppers World up on the other side would have given us the outdoor seating at John Harvard's, and created a place where hundreds of nearby office workers could have wanted to stroll around during lunchtime. Sigh. What an opportunity lost.

March 18, 2006

Gas/Road Hogs on the Wane: Monster SUVs ‘Decidedly Less Cool’

"Luxury sport utilities are becoming decidedly less cool than just three years ago, when they were the hottest things on wheels and dealers had long waiting lists for the most popular models," the New York Times reports today in an article titled Trading the Hummer for Honda.

"On top of the sales drop that has hurt all sport utilities, fewer than half the people who bought luxury S.U.V.'s are going back for another one. Incentives for the vehicles are at record levels and for the first time, luxury automakers are paying out more for rebates and lease deals to entice consumers to buy luxury S.U.V.'s than to buy cars.

"The higher cost of gasoline plays a big role, as it has for the last year of high oil prices. But wealthy buyers, who used to shrug off the expense, are shifting gears, as excessive energy consumption is becoming socially embarrassing."

It's about time. There is simply nothing positive for the community at large when private citizens are roaring through our streets in tank-sized humvees. Obviously, gas guzzling is an issue -- besides the unneeded excess pollution that all of us have to breathe, there's that capitalist supply-and-demand problem, especially for a commodity like oil, where increased demand means supplies have to come from increasing less efficient, more expensive sources.

But massively oversized vehicles cause other issues in the community:

* They are dangerous for the rest of us -- likely to cause more harm to others in an accident, and block the view of other drivers on the road and pulling out of parking lots

*They take up more room for parking and within travel lanes than conventional autos

* They cause more wear and tear on roads.

The message they send, intentional or not, is: I don't give a damn whether I'm hogging an unfair share of road and energy resources, whether I'm more likely to kill or maim you in an accident or if you can't see the road in front of you or oncoming cars when you're pulling out of a parking space. I don't care about the common, public space around me; I'm doing all I can to wall myself off from it. It's all about me me me and flaunting the fact that I have enough money to ride around in a civilian tank.

I'm far from alone in my distaste for such vehicles. Says the Times: "For Janna Jensen, it was the dirty looks and nasty gestures from other drivers that finally persuaded her to give up the family's $55,000 Hummer H2."

March 16, 2006

‘The Banning of People’

"One fallacy that growing communities need to get over, said [walkable neighborhoods advocate Dan] Burden, is that wider roads mean fewer traffic problems. In some cases, the opposite is true. For instance, wider roads encourage motorists to drive faster," the Desert Sun reports from a smart growth forum in Palm Desert. "Narrower roads, by contrast, encourage slower driving, while also encouraging pedestrians to visit neighborhoods more. . . .

"Burden showed a slide of one busy valley intersection, which he did not name, that illustrates one of the biggest problems facing neighborhoods: ' the banning of people.' "

People aren't really prohibited, of course. What he means is design that is so off-putting to pedestrians that no one actually wants to walk, even if sidewalks are present. How many people do you see walking along the Speen Street interchange in Natick, despite the presence of sidewalks? Zero thought was put into making a streetscape that feels safe, let alone pleasant, for walkers, which is why people at the Marriott hotel on one side of the street have to get into their cars to get to the stores and restaurants on the other side, even though those destinations are clearly "within walking distance." My office is less than a mile from there, but my colleagues from out of town who stay there when visiting the home office need to drive or take the hotel shuttle because the environment is so hostile for walking.

Why does traffic seem to be growing everywhere? "Even without current and future population growth factored in, vehicle trips for a typical household have increased 19.3 percent over the past decade, said John Wohlmuth, executive director of the Coachella Valley Association of Governments," according to the Desert Sun.

" 'It’s not just the growth. We’re using our cars nearly 20 percent more,' said Wohlmuth."

March 14, 2006

First Impressions: Planning Board Forum

The two Planning Board incumbents who haven't yet responded to my e-mail questions spoke at a local candidates forum last night. It's hard to draw conclusions from half an hour, but my first impressions are that all three running for two spots on the board appear knowledgeable and qualified - a happy state of affairs for such important positions in town.

So then we come to the issues. I was puzzled by the tone of questions from some of the panel, particularly former selectman and state rep John Stefanini, implying that Framingham is a difficult and sometimes hostile place to do business for developers. Sorry, but looking around this community compared to surrounding towns, I find it hard to conclude that Framingham is under-developed and under-invested. Perhaps it is if you look at Worcester (his comparison); but he might also want to look at other communities in MetroWest. Is it perhaps easier to build a major project in Sudbury? Wayland? Southborough? I doubt it.

March 13, 2006

Framingham Planning Board Candidate Stephen Meltzer’s Vision

Challenger Stephen Meltzer is the first Planning Board candidate to respond to my series of questions on his vision for the community:

Because I perceive the solutions to many of the issues raised by your questions as interdependent, I will outline my vision as a whole, in hopes that the questions are addressed. I apologize that I cannot intelligently comment on the grant money question.

The Town of Framingham needs to look forward with realistic expectations. Growth is inevitable. Framingham needs to be cautiously at the cutting edge of zoning and planning. Downtown, Nobscot, Saxonville and other village areas need to be injected with significant planning initiatives.

The solutions should probably be modeled on mixed-use zoning concepts. An example of a well-executed but poorly conceived plan of growth can be seen in places like Downtown Worcester. During the 1970's and 1980's, commercial growth was rampant and exciting in Worcester. As the corner turned and the Downtown area was becoming built out with commercial development, it became clear that something was missing. With dusk each evening and the closing-of-shop of the commercial enterprises came the desertion of Downtown - a virtual ghost-town. Since the mid-1990's, Worcester has been working, with some success, to bring residences back to Downtown.

Another example is our own Golden Triangle. There is much to proud of in the growth of this retail Mecca but it has, like Worcester, become one-dimensional. The only way to maintain the area and its ongoing viability is to carefully control the aesthetics, as the Planning Board has strived to do, and carefully monitor traffic flow and safety issues.

Questions I’d Like to Ask Planning Board Candidates

Here are the questions I'd love to ask candidates for the Framingham Planning Board. In fact, I'm going to try to send them out by e-mail and if necessary postal mail, and post any responses here.

What is your vision for downtown Framingham? What if any changes would you like to see implemented downtown?

What do you see as the most important planning issues facing the Rte. 9/30 Golden Triangle?

If you had the power to ask developers along the Golden Triangle to make changes in design, scale or use, what would you ask for?

What are your thoughts about business districts outside of downtown and Rte. 9, and what you would like to see happen in places like Nobscot and Saxonville?

Is it the Planning Board's place to be concerned about creating pedestrian-friendly streetscapes as well as dealing with vehicular traffic issues? If so, how successful to you believe Framingham has been in doing so?

March 12, 2006

How to Kill Off Foot Traffic: Framingham State College

It was a gorgeous spring yesterday, and you'd expect people to be out in droves. Yet in Framingham Centre, as I was stopped at two cycles of the light by Framingham State just before lunchtime, you could see a ton of cars but no pedestrians. (Well OK, not entirely true, there was one older man walking swiftly somewhere who didn't look very happy to be out and about walking). Now, college students are among the demographics to most naturally flock outside on foot on nice days after long winters. Have you ever been in the Boston University area on a nice spring day? The area is flooded with foot traffic, and it's NOT because of a rustic campus and lack of vehicular traffic. In fact, many are out sunning themselves along busy Storrow Drive. However, it IS because the area around Commonwealth Avenue is designed with pedestrians as well as cars in mind, encouraging both to share the streetscape. Framingham Centre around the college, on the other hand, is just about optimally designed to kill off foot traffic.

There are technically sidewalks that exist on Union Avenue and the ramp up from Rte. 9 around the college, but they are so exceptionally unpleasant as to discourage all but the most desperate users: They're narrow, they have absolutely no buffer between multiple lanes of traffic and pedestrian, and the streetscape on the other side is decidedly unappealing. There's also an existing bridge over Rte. 9 to get to the stores on the other side, but the pedestrian path to that bridge from either side is also unappealing.

This is nuts. There's a ready-made, large groups of would-be walkers who could bring pedestrian life to the business district immediately around the college. But instead of being designed in a way to encourage a flourishing retail center in symbiosis with the college, the design of the area maximizes the separation of campus and community, discouraging pedestrians to stroll out from their dorms to Union Avenue just about as effectively as if the campus were surrounded by barbed wire.

March 9, 2006

250 condos OK’d for Natick Mall Expansion

The Natick Planning Board unanimously approved 215 condominiums as part of the Natick Mall expansion, according to the MetroWest Daily News. The units are expected to be priced between $300,000 and $1 million.

Unless the design has changed markedly since I've seen it, though, those residents won't be living in a very walker-friendly environment. Sure, they'll be able to walk inside to the mall stores; but I don't see the outdoor ambiance being conducive to any sort of strolling or pleasant outdoor activity. Nor is the new center being integrated well with the surrounding residential and commercial area, such as the nearby movie theater and Shoppers World. And the promised spur of the Cochituate Rail Trail just dumps into a parking lot, instead of being a well-thought-out part of the complex.

Update: Josh added a comment below, about the West Natick Neighborhood Association meeting regarding the mall expansion.

Mayor in Florida Seeks More Pedestrian-Friendly Bridge

Jackson, Fla. Mayor John Peyton supports reducing a traffic lane on a Main Street bridge in order to make it more appealing for walkers, according to "One of the first things the city would do to make the bridge more pedestrian friendly would be to expand the bridge's sidewalks to make pedestrians feel safer and create a lot more space," the story explains. "After the sidewalks are expanded, the mayor wants to take away one lane of traffic and create an environment that would attract more people with outdoor cafes and a large open area."

Note the concept here: Sidewalks already exist on the bridge, but apparently they're not sidewalks that many people would actually want to use. This is a key issue that far too few of our public officials here understand. Simply installing sidewalks does not make an environment where people will actually walk. There are definite streetscape requirements to attract pedestrian activity, including a buffer between walkers and whizzing traffic.