Feet Follow Fabric II: Understanding the Power of “Eyes on the Street”

[Intro: This slide show — only one photo and no graphics — was “presented” to an on-line conference  in the fall of 2011 to commemorate World Planning Day.  I don’t know how to transfer to this site, other than after ‘translating’ to my Wordperfect program.  I finally did this in 2017 while preparing a walk narrative for the national conference of Mensa people at Carleton University.  The organizers approached Jane’s Walk organizer, Leigh Thorpe, for a walk on this particular street near campus, Preston Street, Ottawa “Little Italy” and the only main street with light-rail running along its entire length, albeit with only two stations and set almost a block to the west.  The topic: Perspective on City Planning Fifty years back and ahead.]

Feet Follow Fabric:
Understanding How “Eyes on the Street” Works

Presentation by Chris Bradshaw, to the On-line World  Planning Day Conference, November 1, 2011 (hearth@ties.ottawa.on.ca)
slide 2:

Jane Jacobs’ Legacy of “Eyes”  The components (from The Death and Life of Great American Cities, slide 35)

In other words, natural surveillance.
She also identified what features contributes to it:

Buildings facing the street
1.    Clear demarcation between the public and private lands
2.    Busy sidewalks
3.    The “eyes” . . . “must belong to those we might call the  natural proprietors of the street.”
4.    Good lighting (slide 36)
5.    Active and “flush” storefronts (2000 speech in Washington)  (transcribed from tape by speaker)

slide 3:

Crime: Reducing the Opportunity: “Eyes” inhibit crime

○    The crime doesn’t necessarily move elsewhere; the  inclusiveness of street life can prevent the attitudes of  predation and anger/resentment.

○    Does the walking of dogs – a great generator trips  outdoors, especially ‘after hours’ – have its own role in  inhibiting crime?

slide 4

Both Inside and Outside Buildings: The eyes – and ears – belong to both those outside the  buildings, as well as those inside.

○    Those outside looking at each other
○    Occupants (residents & employees of business)  watching each others’ houses/yards
○    Those outside watching residents
○    Those inside watching those outside.  Street as  “theatre”

slide 5

Proprietorship & Efficacy: Feeling like an owner of the (shared) space  means taking responsibility:

○    Noticing that something is wrong
○     Caring about harm may come to people and to  the place if intervention doesn’t occur.
○     A willingness/knowledge to act

slide 6

Additional Dynamics of Life in  Public Areas

○     The “raised eyebrow” indicates displeasure to outsiders
○     Part of “people watching” is making up stories about the  people one sees, especially couples (Engwicht 1993)
○     Games are popular (tables support checkers, etc.; a  larger area supports frisbee circle)
○     “Hanging out” with friends (social networking)
○     Some want to be alone
○     One of Ray Oldenberg’s “Third Places” (1993)

slide 7

Are all eyes equal?

○     Motorists’ eyes are only “part-time,” distracted by  responsibilities of driving
○     The residents living above street level offer another  perspective
○     ‘Locals’ know history of area; know who to call for  action/repair.
○     Children don’t see as much, but are attractors of  others’ eyes.

Slide 8

“Eye-deas” that work

○    Defensible Space (Oscar Newman)
○    CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental  Design)
○    “Broken Window” Theory (repair vandalism fast)
○    “Complete streets” (and balanced neighbourhoods)
○    “Traffic Calming” (speed reducing)
○    Heritage district marketplaces (Gratz/Mintz)
○    Street Reclaiming (Engwicht 1999)
○    Seating: “Patio-ization” of restaurants, commemorative  bench programs

slide 9

Fear (Safety/Security)

○    Jacobs had in mind mostly crime that ‘eyes’ would  inhibit, day and night (security).
○    But there is also a equal fear of traffic collisions,  especially pedestrian-vehicle (safety).  Ottawa  professor has create Walking Security Index’
○    In Abraham Maslov’s “hierarchy of needs,” security of  person and one’s valuables (home and employment)  ranked 2nd of five in importance.


Danger is Not Democratic

○    The automobile is not an equalizer, but rather gives those  with a car more power than those without (endangerers  and endangerees)
○    Planning is done for AAAs (active, affluent adults).  But  about half are ‘PED-CIVs’ (Poor, Elderly, Disabled,  Children, Ill/infirm, Visitors, ‘Simplicists’)
○    Car-dependency not only increases safety fears for  PED- CIVs, but reduces the quality of choices.
○    Speed is major component of injuries.  Doubling of speed  quadruple injuries and chance of death.

Slide 11

What “Eyes” adds is ‘Fabric’: “Feet Follow Fabric” echoes adage: “Form Follows Function”

○    The “fabric” consists of the “desire lines” linking any set of  “eyes” to any other point.
○    “Feet follow fabric” refers to the ability of the feet to follow  its eyes.
○    What degrades fabric is motor traffic above a certain  speed, vacant lots, fences near street
○    Car-dependency, and the sprawl it induces, hurts  community commitment; each 10 mins. of commuting =  10% less.  (Putnam, slide 213)

slide 12

Fabric – 2

○    Appleyard & Lintell analyzed three similar streets with  different amounts traffic.  The low-volume street had  much more foot traffic.
○    Reducing car presence an easy “sell” to merchants now.  (Roberts).
○    Schmoozing important (Whyte 1988)
○    Civility and anonymity have a role in building fabric.  [Carter] But beware paralysis: Kitty Genovese (1964,  wikipedia) & 2-yr-old child runover in China
○     “The best way to handle the problem of undesirables is  to make a place attractive to everyone else.”[Whyte  1980, slide63]

slide 13

The Role of Automobiles and Traffic

○    Cars are source of noise that reduces “ears” function;  also grime that soils clothes, shoes.
○    Most retailers assume their better customers come by  car and over-accommodate them; stores are over-sized,  set back from roads.
○    Cars represent the privatization of public space.  It also  insulates the occupants from sensing the negative  impacts.

Slide 14

Children & the Elderly: Freedom for drivers = loss of independence for non-drivers

○    UK children, 1970-1990, experienced loss of freedom to  “roam” from age 6 to age 11 (Hillman).
○    A child’s ability to detect direction in hearing and to fathom  the “hurriedness” of traffic is poor (Sandels).
○    As road speeds and incivility have increased, seniors  feeling stress and curbing their time out.
○    Off-street parking and wide turning radii hurt walking.
○    Self-esteem/responsibility hurt by increase in being  chaperoned more in early/later yrs.

Slide 15

Moving away from “personal” cars: I Left Pedestrian Advocacy in 2000 to Promote Carsharing

○    Greatly reduces parking demand and impacts
○    Enhances appeal of shorter trips by foot, by shifting  costs to variable from fixed (sunk) (’no drive, no pay’)
○    Driver accountability (via provider) is higher
○    Makes transit as close of location of cars.
○    Causes shift toward “green” modes; further restrictions  on car travel (e.g., no free parking)

slide 16

“Naked Streets”: Concept of Hans Monderman, late Dutch road engineer,  shows that traffic rules inherently have pro-car bias

○    Removes the separation of vehicle and pedestrian  sections of street, signs, signals
○    Removes the “rights-of-way” for some travelers to avoid  false-sense-of-security.
○    Result: drivers have to slow down to truly interact with  other users, e.g. at traffic circles
○    Outcome: significant reduction in injuries and deaths,  increase in walking and cycling and transit use

slide 17

Naked Streets/Carsharing Will  Bring Major Shift in Street Culture

○    No off-street parking lots (freeing land for neighbourhood  balancing/mixing land uses).
○    Major shift to other modes.
○    People will again chose to live close to work (at least for  one income; and near good transit connection for other).
○    Safer streets will allow children to walk to school, parks;  seniors to walk to shopping.
○    Personal and municipal expenditures will drop as cost/trip drop precipitously.

Slide 18

Measuring “eyes” and “ears”: The same as “walkability”?

○    The number of eyes/ears
○    The length of time they are out there
○    How much of the mind free to ‘mind’ them?
○    Watchers and “watchees” (kids in latter)
○    Features that can block views and mask sounds  (especially traffic for latter)?
○    Factoring in distractions (e.g., reading a book, talking on  the phone)

slide 19

The Challenges of Measuring

○    Pedestrians: count total time, whether walking or  stationary (standing/leaning or sitting).  Also spatial and  temporal distribution
○    Drivers: Their time on the street as percentage of total trip  x .25 of pedestrian’s attention
○    Passengers: count at a fraction of the driver’s attention  (boredom, hard to see out)
○    Those living/working with potential view (see next)

slide 20

Measuring the Contribution of  Viewing from Inside Buildings: To watch or not to watch

○    Opportunity: windows facing street, minimal window  coverings, height of first floor (views from rear of it can be useless)
○    What is worth watching outside – are there “watchees?   (And are watchers willing to be “watchees”)
○    “Ears” play important role in alerting the “eyes” to a  worthy outside event or situation
○    The amount of time scheduled for outside  chores/routines, e.g, gardening, sweeping, getting the  mail.

Slide 21

Using Video to Collect Data: William “Holly” Whyte a Pioneer

○    Whyte introduced video as tool in his PBS show (and  book) The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces (summarized decades of research in City: Rediscovering the Centre (1988)
○    Today, video is far more common, thanks to being  cheaper, to the Internet being video friendly, and to  software to extract data.
○    Video is also part of society’s eyes, and its  accumulative record can inform our minds.
○    Video output also possible with modelling programs of  future development.

Slide 22

Approaches That Have Failed: Keep our “eyes” on the objective: small scale, short trips

○    Skyways and plus/minus-15 “systems”
○    Street closures and pedestrianization (some streets  car-free vs all streets “car-lite”)
○    Block parents, neighbourhood watch, pace cars, safe  route to school (??)
○    Gentrification (market goes haywire, economic diversity  is priced, Jacobs 2000)
○    Megablocks & ‘imitations’ (Gratz/Mintz)
○    Light rail and “rapid” transit

slide 23

Creating “Eyes” Model Will Help Design

○    “Demand” for each mode can be predicted from plans to  determine traffic (then re-run after varying values for  parking, transit, and mix of land uses).
○    The pedestrian paths can be added at inception, rather  than waiting a year for ruts to be worn in through use.
○    “Eyes”/”ears” indicators should be able to be outputs of  such models.  (Links to real estate, e.g. walkscore.com)

slide 24

Uptown Rideau Street, Ottawa: A case study I am involved in (featured in my “favourite place”  photo

[Rideau Street at Nelson: “Hub of two neighbourhoods: Sandy Hill & Lowertown East/Macdonald Gardens: Grocery store, three health clinics, three pharmacies, public Library branch, jewish bakery, two pizza joints, four other restaurants, two hairdressers, Envirocentre, two bike repair shops (one self-serve), Ottawa U. Student residence]

slide 25

Uptown Rideau Street, Ottawa

○    Despite several high towers and continuous street-orientation, it has few “eyes”; higher income on one side;  low income on the other; former group shops downtown or suburbs.
○    Most shops are for local needs (five pharmacies), but only one coffee shop
○    Reconstruction of street scheduled for 2012-2013.  Street  will have new look.
○    Business association I worked for didn’t want to work to legitimize, so agreed to ask to be “absorbed” by business association to immediate west: Downtown Rideau Business Improvement Area (most merchants don’t understand “Eyes”  principles).

slide 26

Walkability and “Eyes on Street”

○    Walkability (Bradshaw, 1993):
a.    Destinations close by (short trip distances)
b.    Features, including nature, to moderate climate, light,  slopes.
c.    Continuous, good walking surfaces, signage
d.    Maintenance (removal of snow, trash, graffiti)
e.    Seating, washrooms, some public art.
○    “Eyes” refers to cause vs results; recognizes all users,  including supportive role of “insiders”

slide 27-29


○    Appleyard, Donald & Mark Lintell (1972) “”The Environmental Quality of City Streets” in Journal  of the American Institute of Planners, Vol. 38, #2 (March)
○    Bradshaw, Chris (1993) “Creating and Using a Neighbourhood Walkability Index: Towards an  Agenda for Local Heroes”

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○    —- (1997) “Using Our Feet to Reduce our Footprint” in Local Environment Journal, Vol II, No. 1
○    Burden, Dan (March 1997) Walkable Communities Course: A Search for Quality self-published:  http://www.walkablecommunities.org[
○    Carter, Stephen (1998) Civility: Manners, Morals, and the Etiquette of Democracy [Basic Books]
○    Clay, Grady “The Street as Teacher” in Moudon 1987
○    Duany, Andres, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, & Jeff Speck (2000) Suburban Nation [Northpoint  Press]
○    Ekistics special issue: “The Child in the City” (#281 Mar/Apr 1980)
○    Engwicht, David (1993) Reclaiming Our Cities and Towns: Better Living With Less Traffic  [Philadelphia: New Society publishers]
○    — (1999) Street Reclaiming: Creating Livable Streets and Vibrant Communities [Gabriola Is, BC:  New Society Publishers]
○    Gehl, Jan (1980, 1987) Life Between Buildings [NYC: VonNosttrand Reinhard]
○    Go for Green (1999) 1998 National Survey on Active Transportation [Ottawa: Health Canada]
○    Gratz, Roberta Brandes, with Norman Mintz (1998) Cities Back from the Edge: New Life for  Downtown [NYC: John Wiley & Son (Preservation Press)]
○    Hawthorne, Wendy (1989) Why Ontarians Walk, Why Ontarians Don’t Walk More [Energy  Probe]
○    Hillman, Mayer, John Adams, & John Whitelegg.(1990) One False Step: A Study of Children’s  Independent Mobility [London: Policy Studies Institute]
○    Jacobs, Allan B. (1993, 1996) Great Streets [MIT Press]
○    Jacobs, Jane The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) [Vintage]
○    —- (2000) speech in Washington DC on November 11, 2000 [transcribed from video]
○    Kelling, George L. and James Q. Wilson. “Broken Windows”. The Atlantic Monthly. March 1982
○    Maslov, Abraham H. (1968) Toward a Psychology of Being, Second Edition (Van Nostrand  Reinhold]
○    Moudon, Anne Vernez (ed.) (1987) Public Streets for Public Use [NYC: Columbia University  Press]
○    Oldenberg, Ray The Great Good Place (1991)
○    Putnam, Robert (2000) Bowling Alone: The Collapse & Revival of American Community [NYC:  Simon & Schuster]
○    Roberts, John “The Economic Case for Green Modes” in Tolley (1990)
○    Sandels, Stina (1968) Children in Traffic [London: Elek Books]
○    Soderstrom, Mary (2008) The Walkable City: From Haussmann’s Boulevards to Jane Jacobs’  Streets and Beyond [Montreal: Vehicule Press]
○    Tolley, Rodney (ed.) (1990) The Greening of Urban Transportation: Planning for Walking and  Cycling in Western Cities
○    Wellar, Dr. Barry (1998) Walking Security Index [University of Ottawa & the Regional  Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton; wellarb@uottawa.ca].
○    Whyte, Wm. “Holly”(1988) City: Rediscovering the Center [NYC: Doubleday]
○    —–(1980) The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces
○    Websites:
○    Walk-Friendly Communities ratings: http://www.walkfriendly.org/communities/list.cfm
○    Walkable Communities: http://www.walkable.org
○    Perils for Pedestrians (CATV 30-min shows by John Wetmore): http://www.pedestrian.org
○    Project for Public Spaces (grew out of Whyte’s work): http://http://www.pps.org/

○    Maillist for Pedestrian Advocates: ifpedestrians-net@googlegroups.com




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