Michael Fishman of Columbia University uses the term ‘pedestrian engineering’ to describe a way of designing public space with walkers in mind.
Michael Fishman: We’re modeling pedestrian behavior – there’s been traffic modeling for decades. Computers have been used to do that, but now we have the opportunity to use it for pedestrians, which is far more random. It can help improve the designs of these public spaces.
EarthSky spoke to Fishman at the Alt Car Expo in Austin, Texas. Fishman said cities and towns in the United States have mostly been designed around cars – not feet.
Michael Fishman: I think it has a lot to do with our identities as Americans, frankly. And our identity is often tied to our automobile. When we get out of our car, then what?
City centers might accommodate different modes of transportation, but the outskirts of town can leave non-drivers stranded.
Michael Fishman: The asphalt is enormous, the sidewalks are small, and there’s no space for bicycles. So it’s one thing to be riding around or walking around in the middle of town, and it’s another to be riding or walking to town.
Fishman added that it’s essential – and possible – to link suburbs, downtown, and recreation paths together.
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Learning to love science. As a producer for EarthSky, Lindsay Patterson interviews some of the world's most fascinating scientists. Through EarthSky, her work content is syndicated on some of the world's top media websites, including USAToday.com and Reuters.com. Patterson is also charged with helping to stay in steady communication with the thousands of scientists who contribute to EarthSky's work of making the voice of science heard in a noisy world. She graduated from Colorado College with a degree in creative writing, and a keen interest in all forms of journalism and media.