Pedestrianised Commercial Areas: from the perspective of the pedestrian and the vehicle

Alice Vialard, Ayse Ozbil Torun

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The pedestrianisation of city centre is a developing trend in an attempt to revitalize city centre, often in conjunction with commercial interests (Kumar and Ross 2006) and for a safer environment (Pitsiava-Latinopoulou and Basbas 2000, Sonia and Soni 2016). If the pedestrianisation of high streets is now common in the UK, the implantation of shopping centres nearby increases the surface of pedestrian zones such as Liverpool One in Liverpool or Westgate in Oxford. By extending the pedestrian zones and by pushing the automobile traffic at their periphery, is there not a risk to emulate the Shopping centre model in which access is restricted and circulation contained within its precincts, but at the expense of the surroundings?

The case study is Newcastle City Centre that hosts a shopping centre near a pedestrianised high street. The city council projects to extend the pedestrianisation to a much larger area including the main integrated east-west axis – Blackett Street – that is currently shared by both pedestrians, buses and taxis. This study investigates the potential effects of prospective pedestrianisation on the liveliness of the commercial centre of the city through studying the distribution of pedestrians before and after the closure of Blackett Street to traffic. The main hypothesis of the paper is that an effective pedestrianisation should take into consideration the syntactic primary structure of the city. Hence, this study questions the removal of the most integrated street of the primary structure of the city in terms of public transportation (buses), which is the primary source of potential pedestrians into the centre. How does the pedestrianisation of part of the primary structure affect the liveliness (movement) of the edge of the core?

This paper looks at the logic of the axial map as it is reintroduced by the pedestrianisation of large areas, in relationship with the city scale logic of the street centre-line (Turner 2007, Liu and Jiang 2012). The spatial structure of the city is therefore analysed globally through street centre-lines as well as more locally through axial lines. Moving and static activity is recorded by street segment on the edge of the pedestrianized area and on Blackett Street, over 4 weekend days (on two of which Blackett Street is closed to transit). Three times are recorded: 10h, 14h and 21h. The last time period is also included to compare the rates of pedestrian flows when the shops are closed and the retail activities are reduced. Pedestrian counts are then aggregated by axial line, and statistical analyses are developed to compare the association of each representation mode on the distribution of flows.

It is expected that locally, from the point of view of the transit (street centre line analysis), the spatial structure of the city will change drastically since the primary structure is broken and globally the edge becomes the transition space; whereas from the point of the pedestrian (axial lines analysis), it will remain unchanged. Understanding the logic of the axial map in relationship with the street centre-line logic could help in maintaining a lively city centre by preserving the primary structure.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Jul 2019
Event12th International Space Syntax Symposium - Beijing Jiaotong University, Beijing, China
Duration: 8 Jul 201913 Jul 2019


Conference12th International Space Syntax Symposium
Abbreviated title12SSS
Internet address


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