The essay deals with pedestrian mobility issues, focusing on the relation between natural features and walking environment. The aim is to analyze the function that green structure, under its many different forms, has, or could have, to promote sustainable mobility and to make urban outdoor spaces comfortable and enjoyable, and to point out eventual related problems and possible solutions. This topic, a typical argument of the discipline of Environmental Design in urban contexts, is faced in the Human issues and design perspectives working group of the COST Action C11 “Green Structure and Urban Planning”. This inclusive approach covers a wide range of scientific and professional perspectives relating “human issues” to “urban studies” and in particular to environmental tasks. The essay starts with a premise: walking is considered not as a leisure activity but as a transport mode; the “human issues” perspective is considered instrumentally, as the leading one. In the design process, to understand which are the most important aspects to face first, a problem solving methodology combining two methods, proper of technical and of social sciences, is proposed, with the aim to check the consistency between experts’ and users’ points of view, between objective data and subjective feelings. Thanks to the application of various tools, from rigorous scientific criteria to subjective assessments, it is possible to understand actual problems and eventual qualities. This methodology was studied and applied in various work packages of the EU funded research PROMPT; also in two the author was responsible of. By this experience, the lack or insufficiency of natural features was detected as a main problem; many aspects were not considered as satisfactory, not only related to the quantity or adequacy of green but also to its wrong use in relation to walking and people requirements. Some potentialities, natural features have to possibly solve other problems, were also identified and considered as a quality to enhance. The paper, assuming the pedestrian mobility perspective, indicates some solutions, arranged in a framework suggesting what to do and how to do it and tracing a broad outline of applicable measures, to be chosen time by time and to be tailored to the specific case. In particular it considers possible links and synergy effects accomplished by combining and integrating the grey pedestrian network and the green and blue structure; it gives also some indications to devise a differentiated design of such “green network”, pointing out the importance to define priorities and to check compatibilities, and to consider various users’ requirements at the same time, in order to determine an achievable satisfaction level. It concludes proposing guidelines, both quantitative and qualitative, that come from applied research carried out by the author at national and international level. They focus on various performances: density and continuity, usability and accessibility by vulnerable road users, orientation and visual appeal, characteristics increasing the feeling of safety and personal security, or having psychological effects. Particular attention is given to the fact that such network should be designed to guarantee comfort (thermal, visual, acoustic, olfactory, tactile, respiratory, hygienic etc.) to pedestrians and to improve urban microclimate. Three conditions are considered as fundamental: the need to put together different expertise, to face maintenance already at the design stage, to involve citizens in the process.
MARTINCIGH L (2005). “A green-network. The integration of the green structure and the non motorized transport modes’ network”. In A. edited by Werquin (a cura di), “Greenstructure and Urban planning”, Final Report COST Action C11 (pp. 294-301). Luxembourg : Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.