A 13,500 word thesis prepared in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Master of Civic Design awarded by the University of Liverpool. It investigates whether walkability varies in a pair of streets that otherwise meet the criteria aligned with high walkability, but differ as to whether they are disconnected–or “stopped off”–at one end. The thesis earned a 72, a distinction. Written in August 2017.
A notable feature of many streets in England is that they end abruptly, i.e., they are ‘stopped off’, before they would otherwise intersect with a primary road. This street pattern does not reflect the original layout of the network, but rather a deliberate alteration (e.g., by inserting bollards) to achieve a variety of possible aims. These aims may include facilitating faster travel for vehicles using the primary road, preventing drivers from using secondary and tertiary streets as throughways, and decreasing criminal activity by increasing ‘defensible space’ (Robinson, 1911; Newman, 1995). Researchers have found conflicting results, particularly for rates of crime in areas that feature disconnected streets (Beavon et al., 1994; Hillier and Shu, 2000). However, little evidence exists about the effect on walkability when planners restrict vehicular permeability by stopping off streets.
Accordingly, this research investigates whether walkability varies in a pair of streets that otherwise meet the criteria aligned with high walkability, but differ as to whether they are stopped off or not. The two streets are in Liverpool, a city that existing evidence suggests would benefit from improving walkability and one that has many examples of stopped off streets. To investigate this issue, semi-structured interviews with residents of the streets and a series of ethnographic, observational surveys of people walking on the streets at different times of the day and days of the week were conducted. The research indicates that stopping off a street increases walkability on streets with terraced homes that are close to a diverse set of uses and are among a network of dense intersections. However, resistance from residents to stopping off an open street suggests that policymakers should consider alternatives to calm traffic that may be able to achieve similar results.
Read the full thesis below: