chapter  15
26 Pages

The Future of Walking

Part I tells the story of a complex three-way transmission of ideas and practice between Britain, Germany and North America as all sides tried to manage the relationship between pedestrians and motor traffic in similar ways but with different intensities and success. The idea to build roads for wheeled traffic and to physically separate footpaths – in contrast to constructing roads with sidewalks – was an old European vision from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Studying the street designs of garden cities and earlier forms of working-class housing in England reveals that separate footpaths had already been included in Port Sunlight (1888) and in New Earswick1 (1901/02). At first, economic factors had been the main reasons why footpaths were built, as they were able to replace streets. Yet the physical separation between pedestrians and wheeled traffic did not become a real issue until the number of accidents became a serious problem from about the mid-1920s onward, though later in Germany. The reasons for the high number of accidents were badly maintained and built roads, bad drivers (there was no driving license) and a lack of proper traffic regulations.