CHALLENGES FACING PEDESTRIANS AND THEIR PLANNING IMPLICATIONS FOR WESTLANDS COMMERCIAL CENTER

ABSTRACT
Pedestrians are an important aspect of the urban function. During historical times, the cities and
towns were small and the pedestrian enjoyed safe, comfortable and efficient movement and
interaction within these towns. With growth and spread of these urban centers and towns, and the
increased reliance on automobiles, planning for the pedestrian slowly faded. Towns, cities and
urban spaces were subsequently tailored to fit the motor-vehicle; making the overall pedestrian
experience highly uncomfortable and challenging.
Commercial centers in towns and cities experience high levels of activity and high densities of
population movement and interaction. In developing countries, most movement into, around and
out of these urban spaces is based on the pedestrian mode. These areas have high land values and
therefore increased investment and developments which in turn increases volumes of users. This
competition for space leads to lack of adequate space to accommodate the high volumes of users
within these centers. Similarly, the increasing numbers of users of these centers – both pedestrian
and vehicular in nature- begin to constrain the available space and infrastructure. This leads to
ills such as pollution, congestion and high accident risks.
The need to accommodate pedestrians is a growing challenge in most towns and cities. This
includes planning for pedestrian safety, security and efficient movement and interaction within
the city, while still ensuring care and concern for varied users- including the disabled, old
persons and children users.
This research looks into the issues and challenges faced by pedestrians as they interact with the
urban system. The study, which analyses a vibrant and rapidly growing commercial center-
Westlands Commercial Center, examines the effect of growth and development on the
generation of pedestrian activity; the levels of provision of pedestrian infrastructure in relation to
the generated demand; and also the role of management in accommodating the pedestrian
function in the center. Eventually, the study sought to point out planning interventions that could
be taken to improve the situation.
Using research methods and techniques, the study managed to highlight a number of key
findings regarding pedestrian challenges in Westlands Commercial Center; mainly the challenge
of increasing pedestrian numbers as a result of growth and development of the center. These tend
to compete for inadequate infrastructural facilities. Another key challenge included the conflict
between pedestrian and vehicular users of the center as a result of increased numbers. Major
recommendations included the role of planning and development in accommodating the
pedestrian user of the center. This included planning for growth and development, and increasing
the pedestrian space within the center in order to enhance safety, security and convenience.