As the UK population continues to expand, as does the demand for stronger, more durable streets and pathways. Improvement of infrastructure is a major focus for local authorities with many towns and cities currently undergoing massive projects to redesign streets to ensure they are more pedestrian friendly.

The Project for Public Spaces states that: “Downtown streets can become destinations worth visiting, where parents can let children play safely, and commercial streets can be designed as grand boulevards, suitable for walking and cycling.” This pedestrian focused approach to street use and design is becoming a popular trend across the world. So how can this type of street restructuring be achieved and what materials are available that can help to support increased foot traffic on public pathways?

Adapting streets for pedestrian use

Traditionally streets have played a varied role from providing access and acting as social space, to supporting commercial activity. The increase in car ownership put street design in the hands of traffic engineers. However the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) stated that adopting a design practice whereby pedestrians and vehicles would remain segregated has resulted in numerous problems.

Taking a look at examples of projects across the UK, it is clear that many want to move away from the segregated approach and are redesigning streets to support increased pedestrian use. For example, as part of the “Making Walking Count” initiative, Southwark Council and Transport for London worked together to facilitate more pedestrian traffic in the area. Works included widening and repaving footpaths, improving pedestrian crossings, additional street lighting and planting more trees and greenery.

Initiatives to improve street design can also stem from broader community projects. Take The Bridgewater Way Programme. After research revealed that as a result of insufficient transport options, businesses were deterred from investing in the area and young people were struggling to find employment, a redesign project was launched to make the environment more attractive for everyday walking and cycling. Works included community-led street design, a 6.5-mile cycle path and business travel planning.

Supporting materials

Choosing strong enough materials to support more pedestrian traffic is an important step when improving street design. CABE recommends all street materials should be simple and durable and most importantly, capable of withstanding heavy loads and continuous activity. 

Incorporating an edging support on pathways is a great way of enhancing the durability of pedestrian streets. Kinley’s range of ExcelEdge edging is designed for this purpose. Its AluExcel aluminium edging material has been used in many projects across the UK as a sustainable yet strong path support. Featured in large-scale community development near Aberdeen, Chapelton of Elsick, AluExcel acts as a firm reinforcement on the numerous pedestrian streets across the development. The flexible properties of the product allow it to strengthen the curved paths that are a prominent feature of the project design.

Redesigning and enhancing pedestrian streets can make a huge difference to communities in many ways, from encouraging residents to get fit to improving access to job opportunities in local areas. With the right materials, all pathways can be built to last, ensuring they will serve the increasing population for many years to come.

To find out more about Kinley’s range of edging products, please click here.

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