Life on foot : an investigation of pedestrian life in everyday urban space
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Exploring pedestrian life in the drab, suburban fringe of Austin, Texas this master’s thesis aims to understand where and how people walk in an environment that does not seem to encourage it. Inspired by the literature of “everyday urbanism,” the author studied the intersection of North Lamar Boulevard and Rundberg Lane in Austin, a place known for being high in crime, traffic crashes, and poverty rates. In an effort to document with the precision of traffic engineers how people walk in a city, this study found a rich tapestry of walking routes that go beyond the officially designated sidewalks and crosswalks typically seen as the place for walking. Pedestrians seem to create their own routes, traversing parking lots and landscaping. Furthermore, the walking environment seems to be racialized, to be gendered, and to attract only certain ages. This study suggests planning theorists adopt a broader notion of what makes a place “walkable,” more closely studying the experience of pedestrians in environments such as Rundberg and Lamar. Further, this thesis suggests that practitioners design and plan such spaces after understanding by experience how people actually use and inhabit a space.