Photographic Critique of Land Use and Transportation Planning

A. Pedestrian Travel

The immediate environment impacts the activities of human beings. May it be walking, cycling, or driving; the planning of transportation route has a significant influence on the day to day, movements. In the modern times of proliferated urbanizations, the cities have been deprived of the space, which was initially considered important. The sudden surge of the human population has contributed to this phenomenon, thus negating the very virtue of aesthetic environments. However, some areas are well designed to conform to the required standards of lighting, widths of roads, and other factors that constitute a safe environment. Discussion of the photos below will give more insight.

  1. An aesthetically pleasant walking environment
Text Box: Photo 1 Side walk Located at St. Paul Street and Garden Park Street, St. Catharines, ON, Taken in 26 June 2018, at 2:00 pm

The way is pleasant walking environment because:

This direct route is an illustration of a friendly environment to the user, depicted by the well-potted flowers on the sides. The width of the road is enough to accommodate both the walking pedestrians and the disabled individuals on the wheelchairs. Moreover, the lighting is well catered for, as one can spot the streetlights, which are positioned at equal intervals thus guaranteeing the user of their security at night.  In the same vein, the resting chairs are well stationed at the sides of the path, for pedestrians to rest in case they get tired along the way. Hanging on the building on the right is a CCTV camera, which captures the activities going along the street. One thing that scares people as they walk in the cities is the idea of being mugged along the way. With this kind of a system, the security is beefed up for the benefit of the populace.  The fragrance of the flowering plants along the routes presumably gives a welcoming aroma to the passers by.

                   2. An aesthetically unpleasant walking environment

Text Box: Photo 2 Side walk Located at Carlton Street and Wood Street, St. Catharines, ON, Taken in 23 June 2018, at 7:21 pm

This route is not pleasant to walk through due to the following reasons:

First and foremost, what catches the eyes of the viewer is lack of enough lighting along the street. It signifies that the route is dark at night, which is not safe for walking pedestrians.  It can also be observed that the sidewalk is not leveled, because some sections are raised more than the others. This is also accompanied by a dip curving, which is not appropriate to use with a wheelchair. Again, the plants growing along the routes block the way. During the rainy season, it can cause disturbance to the people walking along the way. The foliage also reduces the space for walking. The width of the path limits the number of people who can walk alongside each other. One can see that the sidewalk cannot accommodate two people, walking opposite to each other.

3. A Safe Walking Environment

Text Box: Photo 3 Side walk Located at Carlton Street and Vine Street, St. Catharines, ON, Taken in 25 June 2018, at 3:30 pm

This way is classified safe due to the following reasons:

The immediate walking path is made of a rough surface, which prevents the users from sliding when walking. It also offers sufficient grip for the wheelchair. One notable thing is the lack of bumps, hence offering the pedestrian a nice walk without injuring themselves. Also, the path is straight, enabling the users to observe the traffic clearly for safety purpose. Also, the footpath is separated from the main highway by a wide stretch of grass, which is well trimmed. In case the vehicle veers off the road, the possibility of knocking the people walking on the footpath is very minimal. It was also noted that the speed limit along this route is 40km/hr. This  is safe for people using the street. Furthermore, the street is well lit by street lights located at different sections of the road.

4. An unsafe walking environment

Text Box: Photo 4 Side walk Located atNiagara Street and North Service Road, St. Catharines, ON, Taken in 26 June 2018, at 1:26 pm

This is an unsafe walking environment due to the following justifiable reasons:

The first thing that gets one’s attention is the location of the sidewalk. From the photo, it’s clear that this is a busy highway. There is no definite separation of the main highway to the sidewalk. Pedestrians, in this case, are exposed to the risks of being knocked off by the passing vehicles. In this kind of construction, a wide separation between the sidewalk and the main way should be in place, which in this case is lacking. There is no crossing infrastructure, to facilitate the people to walk over the busy road. Again the speed limit along this road is 60km/hr that is not safe for the walking pedestrians. Similarly, the route lacks enough traffic signals to alert the users of probable black spots.

5. A secure walking environment

Text Box: Photo 5 Side walk Located at Queen Street and King Street, St. Catharines, ON, Taken in 26 June 2018, at 1:55 pm

The following reasons are behind the classification of this way as for the secure walking environment:

The very characteristic which stands out is enough lighting that can be identified from the first observation. As a result, this becomes more attractive to people who love walking along the streets. It should also be noted that the width of the sidewalk is enough to accommodate more than two people walking alongside each other. It eases the congestion of people that are normally witnessed in busy towns. The lane is straight, thus enabling it to to be visible from the streets and nearby buildings. As a result, insecurity is largely reduced. The surface is rough allowing the use of wheelchairs in all seasons.

  • An insecure walking environment
Text Box: Photo 6 Side walk Located at409 Glenridge Ave., St. Catharines, ON, Taken in 27 June 2018, at 7:15 pm

The way is considered insecure as a result of the following observable reasons:

One aspect that catches the eyes of the viewer is the forested environments. The road is engulfed amidst the tall, towering trees, which renders it unsafe for pedestrians to walk or drive through at night hours. The vegetation all over leaves no space for the installation of streetlights. One can outrightly note that this place is dark at night hours. Thus the possibility of car hijacking is very high. The absence of any vehicle at the time of taking the photo was enough evidence that people rarely use this route to access their destinations. Again, there is no space to create a separation between the sidewalk and the main highway. A person walking along the footpath can easily be hit by a passing vehicle. The fact that there are no near buildings around makes it more scaring to use the route. The bending road is not safe for drives since accidents can happen anytime. The road lacks clear visibility due to contours along the way.

B.Cycling Environment

7. A safe roadway for cycling

Text Box: Photo 7cycle roadway Located at Carlton street and Vine Street, St. Catharines, ON, Taken in 25 June 2018, at 3:30 pm

The route is safe for cycling due to the following reasons:

This stretch of the road is straight and devoid of exaggerated curving which might threaten the lives of the cyclist. Strait path ensures that the drivers can see the cyclist hence avoid the possibilities of the collision. Again, the road is well demarcated, to identify the lanes that belong to the cyclist, and those for the motorist. The separation prevents the vehicles blocking the way, thus facilitating seamless movements. Another notable characteristic is the aspect of lighting. The streetlights are well spread, to ensure that the users can see each other and avoid intercepting the lanes. The way is wide enough to prevent the traffic congestion and at the same time improve the movement. The route has adhered to most of the safety precaution that a cyclist should consider before using any busy road.

8. An unsafe roadway for cycling

Text Box: Photo 8cycle roadwayLocated at Carlton Street and Wood Street, St. Catharines, ON, Taken in 25 June 2018, at 2:00 pm

This road is unsafe for cycling due to the reasons elaborated below:

The very first impression that comes into the mind of the viewer is that this road is far from being safe for any cyclist. It can be hypothesized that the contractors did not consider the factor of people who use bikes as a means of transport. One, the road lacks cycling lanes. A cyclist shares the same lanes with the vehicles, which exposes them to more risks. Furthermore, it can be seen that some of the users park the vehicles just alongside the main highway. This has an effect of blocking the cyclists, which increases the chances of being hit by oncoming vehicles. The trees on the sides of the road also obscure the cyclists of the clear vision. That said, this road is not fit for users of bikes.

9. An adequate bicycle storage facility

Text Box: Photo 9bicycle storage Located at St. Paul Street and Carlisle Street, St. Catharines, ON, Taken in 26 June 2018, at 1:43

The facility is adequate bicycle storage because of the following pointed out characteristics:

The location of this facility is well stationed in a place where the lighting is enough. This is both to the security of the rider and the bicycles. Enough lighting enables the users to park the bicycles in the facility, without the challenge of locating the appropriate angle of fitting them in the rooms. One gets to notice that the building has glass doors, which allows the owner to keep in check his or her bicycle from far. Interestingly, the enclosed facility guarantees the users of the security. This is opposed as to when the individuals could have locked the bicycle in an open place. A new person might fail to know whether this is a storage facility. The design is more of a living room, which distracts any person with the intention of stealing the bicycles.

 The use of brick wall and glass doors is measures to heighten the security. It would take long before an ill-intentioned person breaks the building to access the inside rooms. This is an absolute representation of how a storage room for bicycles should appear.

10. An inadequate bicycle storage facility

Text Box: Photo 10bicycle storage Located at St. Paul Street and Carlisle Street, St. Catharines, ON, Taken in 26 June 2018, at 1:40 pm

The facility is inadequate for the storage of the bicycles because of the following detailed reasons:

One thing that catches the eyes of the viewer is the location of the storage place. By the fact that it’s positioned in an open place exposes them to theft by ill-intentioned individuals. As opposed to cars, bikes are difficult to guarantee maximum security when packed in an open place. The locking system can be easily interfered with, thus allowing thieves to elope with them. The lighting of this place is not adequate. This is well shown by the dark background that is partially contributed by the tree. Again, the parking lot is subdued between two tall buildings, which further increase the chances of insecurity. Presence of fixed resting chairs indicates that this place allows people to rest. Stationing a storage place together with the resting place is not safe at all. As it can be seen from the photo, this is a backstreet where very few people can access. It makes it difficult to monitor the bikes.

  • C. Road Crossing

11. A safe designated road crossing

Text Box: Photo 11road crossing Located at St. Paul Street and Carlisle Street, St. Catharines, ON, Taken in 26 June 2018, at 1:45 pm

This point is a safe designated road crossing as supported by the points elaborated below:

It’s of paramount importance to understand that a safe crossing point goes beyond the normal design of the road. There are instances where the roads are well spaced, with a clear demarcation of the pedestrians’ lanes and that for motorists, but still, proved to be a challenge. The image illustrated above has met some core requirements that are required for designated crossing points. The most evident one is the presence of traffic lights, which controls the movement of people and vehicles. Again, the traffic control system has buttons that the pedestrians can press whenever they want to cross. This is the most secure way, as one does not have to wait until the automatic timing starts counting. Notably, the presence of police to control the movement makes the place more secure. It also starts and ends with a curb ramp that contains vision impairments and detectable warnings to mark the boundary between the sidewalk and street necessary for people using wheelchairs and pedestrians with vision disabilities.

12. An unsafe designated road crossing

Text Box: Photo 12road crossing Located at Vine Street and Carlton Street, St. Catharines, ON, Taken in 26 June 2018, at 3:00 pm

This is a good example of unsafe designated road crossing as it will be supported by the observations which h were made and detailed below:

Comparing this image with the previous one, it’s vivid that this place lacks traffic police to control the movement of pedestrians and the automobiles. This is a point with high level of intersection of roads which exposes the people to possible accidents. Ideally, this point should have a high degree of control, coupling human and traffic light control. However, what can be observed is completely disgusting. Only a few signs hanging on top of the highway, whose height is too high to be observed by someone in the vehicle. Also, the signpost indicating children’s crossing is not accompanied by a zebra crossing. This means there should be a person who stops the vehicles to allow the kids to cross, especially during the morning hours. The spot is not well lit, to illuminate the place during the night hours, which extrapolate the argument that this crossing is not safe.  Moreover, the road is busy all the time, and it’s difficult to cross without a volunteer standing to assist in controlling the movement of vehicles.

D. Transit Stop

13. A secure transit stop

Text Box: Photo 13Secure transit stop Located at Niagara Street and North Service Road, St. Catharines, ON, Taken in 26 June 2018, at 2:07 pm

The photo above is an illustration of s secure transit stop as described in the following paragraph:

The photo was taken in one of the busy roads, showing transit stop. The presence of shades to shelter the people during the harsh weather is one of the indicators that this place is safe. Coupled with this, a place for people to rest is stationed at a strategic place, where they can be able to see the buses as they arrive. As it can be observed, the place is well lit by the street lights, which are positioned right behind the pedestrian seat. This enables the people to wait for the buses even at night time.  Considering the location of this waiting place, one can see it from far. Those in apartments can determine when to move out of the office to take the bus to their preferred destinations. Furthermore, the transit is located on a paved boarding area. It eliminates the challenges of the muddy path during the rainy season. This route has a well set waiting bay that gives the pedestrians a good experience while waiting.

14. An insecure transit stop

Text Box: Photo 14transit stop Located atGeneva street and North service road ( Fairview mall parking area)St. Catharines, ON, Taken in 2 July 2018, at 5;15 pm

The place is an insecure transit point due to the following reasons:

The security of the waiting passengers is contributed by how the transit is constructed. Checking the images displayed above, one notes that the place is poorly lit. The street lights are found far away from the point, which predisposes the pedestrians at the risk of criminal activities. Furthermore, there is a complete lack of shelter and seats. The construction of roads at this point leaves no space for such structures, which are elemental in offering the passengers the comfort while waiting for the buses. Notably, the boarding area is not paved. One can easily locate the grass-covered lawn, which is evident that this is the stop point for pedestrians. There is also lack of trash cans. The photographed point lacked even a single collection bin, which is insecure for the environment.

15. A transit stop equipped with proper amenities

Text Box: Photo 15transit stops Located AtG Street and Regional road, St. Catharines, ON, Taken in 23 June 2018, at 7:30 pm

The transit stop is equipped with proper amenities as it’s justified by the points listed below:

It should be understood that the planning of any place should be done geared towards making the populace comfortable in using the facility. Transit points are elemental designated stations that accommodate huge groups of people waiting for buses to ferry them to their destination. Therefore, the waiting time might vary, hence the need to make them comfortable. A close check of the image above signals a lot of information. One can easily locate a shelter, which is well done to secure the people from adverse weather while waiting. Alongside are the seating benches for resting. Also, the transit point has a standby newspaper vending machine, where people can read news as they wait for the buses. Interestingly, the street is well lit, hence more secure for the people. One can stand at this point even during the night time since it’s near the buildings, thus observable to the people in the nearby surrounding.

16. A transit stop that is poorly equipped about necessary amenities

Text Box: Photo 16transit stops Located AtCarlton Street and Vine Street, St. Catharines, ON, Taken in 27 June 2018, at 8:45am

This is a transit stop poorly equipped with proper amenities because:

As eluded in the previous photo, a transit stop should be in a position to make the people comfortable while waiting. The current images illustrate a complete lack of pertinent amenities such as shelter. The way the road is constructed leaves no space for additional structures. Lack of seats for the people to rest is still an issue of concern. On a busy road like this one, the possibility of buses delaying is too high. The passengers tend to stand for long hours before the bus arrives. The responsible town authority has failed to put up structures that improve the lives of the citizens. Additionally, the lighting is not sufficient enough to guarantee security at night. A vehicle might hit the waiting passenger without noticing, as there is no distinct separation from the main highway to where the people stand. In the same vein, garbage bins are lacking, and the transit zone is dirty. Compounding it all, there is no curb ramp for wheelchairs.

E. Land Use Planning

  1. 17.A pedestrian-friendly retail shopping environment
Text Box: Photo 17 pedestrian walkway Located at YAMCA Drive and North Service Road, St. Catharines, ON, Taken in 25 June 2018, at 2:00 pm

This is a pedestrian-friendly retail shopping environment because:

The shopping environment should be made user-friendly, with all the necessary amenities put in place. It goes beyond the structure, to the point of considering the nature of design employed to construct the sidewalks. Considering this photo, this is a raised and wide walkway designed for pedestrian for a safe pass. It also connects the bus stop and the shopping center; it is visible and clearly defined as a pedestrian travel way. Furthermore, the walkway is completely separated from the parking area. It connects between pedestrian sidewalk and the entrance of the shopping center in a straight and direct way which minimizes interruption of movements. The path leading to the shopping mall is well lit, hence preventing the possibility of the accidents when accessing the facility. Quite notable, the parking lot is spacious, which prevents the vehicles from obstructing the flow of shoppers. It contains curb ramp for wheelchair users or strollers to access safely to the shopping center.

18. A pedestrian-unfriendly retail shopping environment

Text Box: Photo 18 pedestrian walkway Located at YAMCA Drive and North Service Road, St. Catharines, ON, Taken in 23 June 2018, at 7:32 pm

This is a pedestrian-unfriendly retail shopping environment because:

The notable characteristic of this place is that it’s not organized. The front view of this photo shows the entrance to the shopping mall, which is also the parking lot. Any new shopper at this place will get agitated by the congestion that happens, especially during the weekends. The nuisance part of it is that both people and the vehicles share the same route to access the mall. There is no definite entrance, as the parked cars block the way. This is dangerous to the people walking into the shopping mall, as they can be injured along the way. Moreover, the lighting system here is totally bad. Only one big light spreader can be observed at a distance, which does not illuminate the space enough. As the shopping center attract a lot of people, the poorly lit space can attract crimes. The surface of the entrance is cracked, making it hard to use wheelchairs.

19. A community-based setting that exudes what you perceive to be a high quality-of-place

Text Box: Photo 19Lakeside park Located atLakeport road andMain street, St. Catharines, ON

This is a community-based setting that exudes a poor or low quality-of-place because:

The quality of life is depicted by how well the individuals can be able to make sense out of the immediate surroundings. This park lacks some important aspects that are considered to improve the lives of people, who choose to visit the arena. One, it lacks the very basic recreation facilities, which ideally comforts most of the people who need a luxury venture. Again, the compound is served with a few benches. The visitors would be forced to sit on the ground contrary to their expectations. The play area for the children is very small, and washrooms are always closed or under maintenance. The park contains a small water area with a fountain where you can watch sea turtle and ducks, but this area always smells dirt. This park is good for walking, to explore the different areas but not for setting and gathering with friends and chatting. Due to the lack of basic services, this park is not preferred for visit by most of St. Catharines residents.

20. A community-based setting that exudes what you perceive to be a poor or low quality-of-place

Text Box: Photo 20Happy rolph's animal farmLocated atRead road and Northup Crescent, St. Catharines, ON

This is a community-based setting that exudes a high quality-of-place because:

The park provides a sense of community connection. It contains seats and benches at different locations of the park. It also contains an area for celebrations and parties. The presence of the green areas decrease stress and change the negative mood. The carousel is one of the prominent places in this park that attracts both adults and children. The notable leafy surrounding creates a conducive environment to chat with friends while breathing fresh air far from the congested town. The park has designated sections for children playing, installed with swings and slides that attracts a plethora of young people visiting this place. By the fact that the park is located on a beach, it offers a great area to relax and enjoy the wonderful weather and spend joyful time with family and friends. The park Also provides public washrooms, garbage bins, and barbecue areas.

Conclusively, human geographers have tried to study the factors that influence the quality of life. In their argument, they opine that aggregate external factors impact a certain place. They consider things like the built environment and the aesthetic of a given area, to have control over the kind of life that the people live. For example, the kind of transportation infrastructure available can dictate the use of a particular route. This encompasses aspects such as safety, convenience, among others. Land use and transportation planning are necessary to ease movement from one place to another.