Making Malls More Pedestrian-Friendly
Suburban box-stores, malls, and strip malls, are usually anathema to any pedestrian-culture – with imposing (often windowless) structures and vast parking lots where pedestrians are forced to dodge cars. These commercial structures are both generic and a product of car-centric architecture and urban planning.
In some cities, these mall and strip mall districts are being re-developed into walkable downtown-like neighbourhoods, with parking lots replaced by walkable and bikeable streetscapes with more aesthetically pleasing environments. These are worthy projects. However, they involve a lot of investment of time and attention and, while providing much needed downtowns and community centres, still leave out the majority of sprawling cityscapes.
Erin Mills Mall in Mississauga – a suburban satellite city of Toronto – offers an example of simple property improvements which, while not fundamentally changing the suburban nature of the mall, offer easily attainable steps to promote walkability and a greater sense of community.
One example is a tree-lined walkway so pedestrians are not forced onto the parking lot itself.
Another example is improvements to the façade of the building, including a clock-tower, to give the mall a less generic feel and the appearance of a true town/community centre.
Near Erin Mills are condos/apartments and a school, proximity that promotes walkability and less car-dependence (even with a car-filled parking lot pictured in the foreground).
Hassan Arif is a PhD candidate in Sociology at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton where he is specializing in urban sociology and local government. He is also a columnist, having published for the Telegraph Journal in Saint John, the Daily Gleaner in Fredericton, as well as the Huffington Post, Sustainable Cities Collective, and Spacing. He has also contributed to Insight articles ...