Led by Professor Marcus White and conducted with iMOVE CRC in collaboration with Transport for NSW, this project aims to develop and test a prototype streetscape design assessment system to facilitate the development of safe and successful places in urban population.
Paving the path for better pedestrian spaces
As Australian urban populations expand and cities accommodate to higher densities, increased pressure is placed on already-contested space within streets.
As our cities grow, we must develop policies and streetscape designs that give pedestrians safe and comfortable walking conditions to major destinations like public transport, shops, parks and recreation facilities.
This project therefore focuses on developing successful streets that meet the demands of both transport movement and place-making.
Our team are using virtual environments (VE) with online citizen surveys to understand how people perceive pedestrian-oriented urban design elements and safe system treatments.
We will use the insights from this study to balance vehicle movement with place-making and pedestrian perceptions of safety in future street design, creating the blueprint for safe and successful places.
Our approach: 3D streetscape VE scenario models
Our research addresses the following:
- Can VE assess the impact of pedestrian-oriented urban design elements, and safe system treatments on pedestrian’s perceptions of safety and place?
- What aspects of traffic impact pedestrian perceptions of safety and place?
- Do street trees and other forms of street landscaping improve pedestrian’s perception of safety and place?
To meet these objectives, we held stakeholder workshops with Transport for NSW and the Government Architect NSW to establish key streetscape variables including place-making, safe system treatments and urban design elements which could be expressed in 3D virtual environment model scenarios.
Applying these variables, we developed parametric digital 3D streetscape VE scenario models from a pedestrian’s viewpoint, including dynamic elements such as vehicle quantity, speed, sound and proximity.
We then used these VE scenario models to elicit responses from citizens through an online survey. We collected responses through surveying techniques including an adaptation of ‘emotion slider’ with ‘Visual Analogue Scale’, and an adaptation of Russel et al.’s ‘Affect Grid’ response method.
Our research findings will provide valuable insights into the impact that safety treatments, traffic factors and urban design have on pedestrian perceptions of place.
The outcomes of this research aim to inform Transport for NSW and local Councils toward development.
Our 20-minute interactive user experience survey for this project will be used to help urban designers and transport engineers understand how different elements of street design impact you and your family’s sense of safety and comfort in streets.
The survey can be accessed here.