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Walking Utopias in a long-term perspective: pedestrian infrastructures in Lyon during 20th century

Résumé : Within a context of flourishing new modes of surface transport, from trams and railways to cars, the pedestrian's position in an urban setting always seems to be challenged. In fact, they are gradually restricted onto sidewalks, which themselves become narrower to make room for larger paved roadways. Nevertheless, pedestrian-dedicated infrastructures are still planned and sometimes implemented, following the traffics segregation idea that prevails in Western cities. These "pedestrian utopias" question the pedestrian’s position both within street-use habits and within the new arrangements meant to adapt to the evolution of these habits. The Lyon case is relevant to illustrate these utopias: Lyon is the second biggest city in France, and holds very diverse modes of transport: trams, trolleybuses, buses, etc. Specific streets and symbolic pedestrian arrangements are compared. This is done with a historical approach to grasp the evolving position of the pedestrian, that changes both according to the location and the period considered. The study relies on public archives (Street administrations reports), maps and pictures of projects, that either were implemented or stayed on the drawing board. From the first streetcars in the 1880s to the remodeling of several streets during the subway construction in the 1980s, we show that pedestrian infrastructures are thought against the conflicting street-running modes of transport. These arrangements are highly correlated with the various and time-dependent issues at stake regarding street planning : aesthetics, equipment, road safety, traffic, parking, ... The study shows that pedestrian arrangements mix both aesthetic and safety issues, which make planners think in terms of levels: this mainly yields the gradeseparation of the conflicts through pedestrian footbridges or underpasses. From the 1960s onward, the failure of these solutions to provide a pedestrian-friendly environment shifts policies towards seeking better cooperation between cars and pedestrians at street level, which can yield to pedestrian-only policies on some streets.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01949889
Contributor : Louis Baldasseroni <>
Submitted on : Thursday, March 7, 2019 - 11:33:53 AM
Last modification on : Monday, April 27, 2020 - 12:21:35 PM

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  • HAL Id : halshs-01949889, version 1

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Louis Baldasseroni. Walking Utopias in a long-term perspective: pedestrian infrastructures in Lyon during 20th century. "Mobile Utopias : Past, Present, Futurs" Conference T2m, Nov 2017, Lancaster, United Kingdom. ⟨halshs-01949889⟩

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