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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The conflict between pedestrians and vehicles : a challenge to the revitalization of the central business district Si Thoo, Chin

Abstract

For the past few decades, an increasing problem for the urban community has been the decentralization of retail trade. That decentralization tends to occur when sales in the central area decline with time. Conversely, sales in the suburban areas have rapidly increased in greater proportion. This trend of decentralization of retail functions is evidenced by the large number of new suburban shopping centers that have been recently and successfully established. The decline of the Central Area in relative importance is generally associated with the factor of increasing traffic congestion, which has been created by the extensive use of the private automobile. It jeopardises the well-being of many inhabitants. It lowers the efficiency of operation and quality of many of the Central Area activities. The Increase in the number of vehicles is so great that unless something is done the conditions are bound to become extremely serious within a comparatively short period of time. The environment for walking, which plays an indispensable part for shopping purposes, has now become one of the main problems which most Central Areas must now attempt to solve. In accommodating vehicular traffic in the Central Area, there must be areas of good environment where people can live, work, shop, look about, and move around on foot in reasonable freedom from vehicular traffic hazards and nuisances. The automobile is not a natural means of locomotion for shopping; the patron of business is essentially a pedestrian, not a motorist. The distasteful quality of commercial areas would disappear if the patron were readily converted from a driver to a pedestrian. Efficient pedestrian circulation within the shopping areas appears to be a fundamental principle in revitalizing the Central Area. The movement of trade to outlying areas raises the question: what will happen to the Central Area of the urban community? The answer to this is dependent to a large extent on the ability of the community to create a "true heart of the city". This calls for a positive program for the revitalization of the Central Area by adopting the principles of the planning and development of "Environmental Areas", thereby minimizing the conflict between pedestrian and vehicular traffic. In carrying out this activity, the people who have an interest in the Central Area must recognize and accept their responsibility. The representatives of the interested parties will have to enlist the services of many specialists, and, most Important of all, must co-operate with the municipal government to do this effectively. The planning and development of "Environmental Areas" can revitalize the congested urban core because it minimizes the traffic conflict between pedestrians and vehicles, eliminates the hazards and nuisances created by the automobiles, enhances the visual appearance of shopping areas, rationalizes land uses for various urban activities, promotes the attractiveness and pleasantness of community life, provides better shopping and working conditions and strengthens the tax revenue base of the Central Area. All these will become realistic if the Central Area renewal program is properly planned and dynamic action is taken to pursue it. It is concluded that if the Central Area is to live and meet the challenge of the suburban shopping centers, it must be made more accessible, more interesting, more functional, and above all more amenable to walking. The revitalization of the Central Area in a vigorous and lively way may do more than anything else to make it the most exciting and prosperous center of the city, with incalculable results for the well-being of the urban community.

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