Walkability is not just about moving by foot.
Pedestrian Space is a platform devoted to issues of walkability and sustainable urbanism and explores many of the dimensions that are critical for creating truly walkable communities.
Public transportation is a very important dimension of this.
Pedestrian Space has a broad focus, looking at a range of urban planning and community issues through the lens of walkability. Access to clean, efficient and affordable public transportation is one of these issues. Such access, in many regions across the globe, is also one of equity.
Convenient, well-connected and safe public transit networks are a hallmark of sustainable 21st-century cities focused on reducing the number of single-occupancy vehicles on the road (thus reducing congestion), environmental protection, greenhouse gas reduction – to name a few key benefits.
Best practices in public transportation as well as initiatives that encourage ridership and ensure a convenient and positive experience are part of our broad focus of coverage.
Photography Note: In preparing this post, I initially thought to include photos I have taken of public transit in many different cities but then decided instead to spotlight photos of the tram system in Kraków, the region we currently live in.
The tram system here is extensive and includes historic cars as well as modern fleets. I love light rail as an option and enjoy photographing mobility scenes in this beautiful and dynamic city. I hope readers enjoy these glimpses of Kraków city and its tram system.
The tram system in Kraków (managed by MPK Kraków) is an extensive and popular form of transportation. There are historic cars in use as well as new fleets. The tram network is a strength of Kraków’s local public transit and we look forward to learning more about it as well as how it is improving with time.
At Pedestrian Space we explore several aspects of public transportation including:
•PUBLIC PERCEPTION: How transit is perceived and discussed in communities including stigmas that might be associated with transit use.
•DEMOCRATIZING PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Connected to the aforementioned stigmas sometimes associated with public transit use is the need to cultivate broad public interest (which is also dependent on several factors below)…
•TRANSIT EQUITY: Affordable, safe and quality public transit should serve all communities, not select ones.
•CONNECTIVITY: Connectivity to suburbs and exurbs is an aspect we value focusing on. In the scope of emissions reductions, it is critical that we focus on areas that are still desperately lacking in options other than personal car use.
•ACCESSIBILITY FOR ALL USERS: For transit to be truly equitable, it needs to also be accessible for all users including those moving by wheelchair, with walkers, with strollers and with reduced mobility or other issues that might require specific inclusive design features.
On a personal note, as a mother, I have been observant of aspects of ‘stroller friendly transit’ which I begin to discuss here.
•EFFICIENCY & CONVENIENCE: Transit users deserve efficiency and convenience in their commutes. For others to be enticed to use public transit, these qualities are paramount.
•AFFORDABILITY: Affordability is a hallmark of any sustainable public transit system and we are also interested in coverage of fare-free transit models and reduced rates for specific demographics as well as time frames.
•ATTRACTIVENESS: While ‘beauty’ is certainly not a critical feature for a modern, well functioning public transit system, who doesn’t enjoy when transit is also a pleasant atmospheric experience? Many cities invest in their historic transit as well as their modern fleets and also use transit to celebrate holidays and days of national importance with the public (i.e. decorating subway cars and stations).
•COMFORT OF STATIONS: Transit users should not have to weather the elements or feel unsafe while waiting during their commute. Clean, well lit and maintained transit stations are vital for a positive commuter experience.
•MUNICIPAL COMMUNICATION ABOUT PUBLIC TRANSIT: We love a great municipal campaign dedicated to enticing the public to use different forms of transit or celebrating aspects of local public transportation. We love seeing municipalities that can be proud of their systems and invest in public transit as a truly viable option for residents.
A Public Transit Memory..
I photographed the below scene on November 1, 2021 in Kraków by the Rakowicki Cemetery (Cmentarz Rakowicki). It was our first time experiencing All Saints’ Day in Poland (a national holiday here) and was an experience for the books.
Rakowicki Cemetery is a historic, sprawling and incredibly atmospheric necropolis. Experiencing the cemetery on November 1st was incredible. A light, floral fragrance wafted all around, the Autumn sunlight shone in like golden shafts and the beauty of flickering candles was everywhere. There was a steady procession of people all around the sprawling and beautiful cemetery grounds, paying their tributes to loved ones passed on and then making their way back home or around the city where many restaurants were open and people gathered to continue enjoying the holiday.
It was a very down-to-earth and magical experience. There was a festive tone but manifest in quiet and respectful actions with busy but also peaceful foot traffic in the necropolis and around the city.
Another exciting aspect of the day was using the light rail to get to the cemetery. All across the nation, cities invest in public transportation on this day to accommodate the needs of populations. -lengthening route hours, introducing special routes, i.e. to cemeteries directly- to accommodate the needs and movement of the public on this national holiday.
It’s been fascinating getting acquainted with the public transit system here in Kraków and we’ve only really just begun.
I snapped the below photo in Warsaw, on our first few days in Poland when we arrived here last year- another city whose mobility dynamics we look forward to exploring. But that’s a story for another post….
-Annika Lundkvist, Editor at Pedestrian Space