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Project 1 – Walkable City


The rapid increase of motorization, such as cars, is leading to street congestion, since streets were not upgraded to suit vehicles. Cars are also leading to increased accidents and issues, such as fuel and pollution, that cities in India had not yet experienced.

The National Urban Transport Policy (NUTP) focuses on more pedestrian movement and an organized public transport system. The main goal of walkability is to make citizens feel safety and comfort. An attractive area is more inviting to walk. It is also important to make the “pedestrian network links” seamless. It is also ideal to have an easy access to a city train, bus, or subway. That way it is regulated and there is not as much traffic. This essay focuses on the Indian city of Siliguri, due to its high rate of urbanization and motorization and the problems that come with.


Walkability – Aspects and Measures:

Effectiveness: Walkability is the foundation for a sustainable city. Four points are made about walkability: 1) Results environmental protection and creates greener environment. 2) Promotes sociability among citizens in a neighborhood. 3) Promotes mental and physical health of citizens. 4) Reduces expenditure for travel.


            Limitations and Constraints: The average speed of a fit adult is 2.5-4 mph. The maximum average distance of walking is 550 yards. The speed usually changes when going uphill or downhill. People prefer not to walk as much when it is raining or snowing, or when it is too hot out. Having too much luggage also makes walking less desirable. Sidewalks are needed to avoid danger.


Measuring Walkability: A way of assessing and measuring walkability is to use a walking audit. A widely used walking audit is PERS (Pedestrian Environment Review System). Another tool is the Walk Score, which is an index based on the distance to the closest amenity of these seven categories: Curb-to-curb roadways, pedestrian crossings, buffer zones, sidewalks, sidewalk facilities, street scale and enclosure, and nearby buildings/properties.


Criteria for Walkable Cities: There are five basic parameters that use a walkability index to measure walkability. They are cover aspects of walkability such as physical, social, psychological, and environmental. The five parameters are: connectivity of path network, linkages with other transportation modes, fine grained and varied land use patterns, personal security and safety, quality of path.

The first three parameters indicate the smoothness of walking in a zonal scale. The fourth parameter is based on local perception and behavioural issues of travel. The last parameter is an approach for developing and strengthening the walking environment.


Overview of Siliguri City:

Siliguri is one of the fastest growing cities of West Bengal State, India. It is the gateway to north-eastern India. Due to the geography of the city, it is gaining a high level of motorization, probably too quickly.

Since 1931, Siliguri has expanded five times its geographical size. The population went from 6,067, in 1931, to 472,000, in 2001, and then to 700,000, in 2011. The planners of Siliguri expect the population to reach two million by 2021.

There is majour congestion of the roads in Siliguri. Many of the problems are because the “Y” shaped intersections, unorganized public transport, mixing slow and fast vehicles, etc. The safety of travel has decreased due to the increasing amount of two wheeled vehicles, cars, extensive public transport, absence of city bus service, and abundant cycle-rickshaws for short travels. The inefficient transport system is causing a waste in social, economic, and financial aspects. It is essential that public transport systems be connected to walking and bicycling paths. This integrated transportation system with bring sustainability to Siliguri.


Possibilities of Walkability for Siliguri:

            The five parameters mentioned earlier are discussed here.


            Connectivity: Connectivity of the path network is determined by the presence of pedestrian paths and their continuity. Siliguri has a “Semi-lattice” type of arrangement, so it is easier to achieve a high degree of connectivity. A mere 14% of road in Siliguri have footpaths. A survey recorded that 10% of all trips are walking. This large number of walkers requires a safe infrastructure that Siliguri does not have. To add to the mess, a railway physically divides the city, causing traffic and congestion. The city has made an overpass and underpass for this problem but has done nothing regarding pedestrian travel.

One possible solution is to attach footpaths on the roads that flow east and west. Since the city buses move north and south, it makes sense to not have the pedestrians flow parallel.


Linkage with Other Modes: Siliguri did not have a city bus system until 2001. Once they did the buses ran inefficiently. Of the 42 buses they owned, there were only 13 different routes, leading to 3 buses operating on the single route. People then opted for cycle rickshaws or motorized two wheelers, which added a large amount of congestion to the roads. This leads to roads with mixed traffic.

A solution to this would be buses run on majour streets, and rickshaws on internal roads. The local streets can be for pedestrians and the infrastructure needed to ensure intermodal linkage.


Fine Grained and Varied Land Use Pattern: A walkable city has an easy access to activities that serve daily needs. For example, local services should be within a range of 10-20 minutes on foot. The concept of “Compact City” perfectly achieves this, but requires high quality social and physical infrastructure, effective public transport, and a safe urban environment. The city of Siliguri has definite potential to achieving the “Compact City” concept.


Safety: Siliguri has a higher risk of passenger injury or fatality, due to the heavy road congestion. If the inner streets become more organized, then the safety and security increases.


Path Quality: The quality of walking paths provides comfort and safety for pedestrians. The width of the sidewalks should be wide enough for 2-3 people to pass one another or walk in groups. Siliguri footpaths achieve this, but the effective width is often ruined by obstructions: lands, bus shelters, trees, shops, etc. Around 75% of the effective width is used by shop owners. It is possible for the government to set regulation on the shop keepers, to reduce the congestion.

Another issue is the weather. There are no awnings or covers to shield the pedestrians from rain. The rain water, however, is effectively drained into the ground.

An important factour for safety is illumination. Lighting helps to provide visual interest while also staving off potential crime. Another factour that is desirable in places of congestion is a sidewalk at a different grade than the street. Siliguri currently has no pedestrian overpasses or underpasses but are working to get that done.

An attractive way to get pedestrians to walk on the sidewalk is to use landscaping. A well-designed streetscape can rejuvenate tired pedestrians, as well as convince people to walk more.

The main problems Siliguri faces are noisy traffic, polluted air, and glaring lights.



The development of the walkability plan in Siliguri should include professional from a variety of design, engineering, health, and social fields. To achieve sustainability, the needs of pedestrians should be properly addressed; in hopes to reduce personal vehicles. Redesigning current roads to include a lane for public transport, and separate lanes for motorized and non-motorized. This will help the roads to be more organized and less congestion. Regulated the space for vendors on the sidewalks will help pedestrians.

If Siliguri is to act as a majour transport hub for thousands of tourists, then they should address their problems. They can start by looking at the five parameters already mentioned.