Traffic vs. urban environment


At the present rate of urbanism the traffic means spending the most valuable asset of human life – time. Today we spend 10–20% of our lives by transportation. All urban projects are derived from the meaning of time necessary for transportation a consider a car the solution of all problem. But a car is a cure which is at the same time poison and we cannot yet determine if it works more as cure or a poison.

Another reason to think about his issue is the accelerating level of automobilization and effectiveness of its acceptance in the urban structures of our cities. It is necessary to state that a car which is in motion for cca 4% of a year, its average use is 1,2 – 2 persons and annual kilometrage 7 – 10 000 km. Space requirement in urban environment is 25 m2 which means living space for 1 person. The car also takes the advantage of being placed horizontally while residents live in their vertically placed flats.

How did the history cope with this problem? How has the traffic – urban environment relation developed? Košice city has resisted until 20th century and has more or less integrated by now.

Traffic – Urban environment interaction development

The beginning of the evolutionary interaction between automobilization and urban environment dates in the end of 19th century when automobile enters the scene. Not many people predicted that this new way of transportation would conquer transportation and would influence the way of life of the people, society and their environment. Until then the urban environment was influenced by non-motorized means of transportation and walking. The speed of movement, overall cumulation of various functions on a small space have specified street and square as positively evaluated representatives of social integration where migration was realized in harmony and compositions and other social relations – analogy of space which we search for today.

Gradual automobile penetration into the original structure defines the first phase of this interaction. The inherited street corridors of different widths now serve as the carriers of motorized traffic which forces out other street users. Adaptation to this relation is displayed by the horizontal division of the street profile of unbearable undersized space or by its mono-function.

The result of this state is re-evaluation of the street bordering object disposition. The concept is not always able to react to new circumstances. Spatial, operating, hygienic and organizational conflict is displayed. “Operations” – reconstruction of the most used corridors is taking place. This situation logically points to the next one – the second phase (the era between wars). This phase is characterized by realizing the traffic negatives and is spatially linked with the former one. Block neighbourhoods are built, mostly through the orthogonal design. A wider street profile is applied (increasing the distance from the motorized communication) and so on. Regulative rules of the new urban settlement street system are given. Motorized and non-motorized traffic is integrated into common street profile. The static traffic is not solved practically (“little Prague“ in Košice).

The increase of the automobilization level after the second world war along with the searching of new spatial principles characterize the third phase. The society frees itself from the previous street concept, the street “breaks apart“. Apartment buildings are placed in different “figures“ which are more remote from the communications and often create an independent built-up areas as a reaction to the negative experience of the motorized traffic organization in strictly functioning street systems. Higher level communications are usually located further from the urban settlements. First signs of differentiated communication systems can be seen. Citizen localization policies are getting clearer. Static traffic only deals with the need of that time without considering future development (Terasa, Košice).

Too much liberty in engineering, negative wider spatial dispersion (even though lower intensity), the increased speed of the car movement and the level of motorization and the gradual conflict between spatial requirements of the motorized and non-motorized movement evokes the need for the urban system change. The long lasting third phase is directed towards motorized and non-motorized spatial segregation and rehabilitates transportation by walking. A pedestrian street space is the sign of the fourth phase (KVP and Ťahanovce in Košice). Static traffic is localized near functionally viewed communication. The number of garages is limited.

The fifth phase is characterized by the re-evaluation of the quality aspects of motorization. Certain socio-psychological activation components are being applied during the urban planning. The hygienic and protective zones are being re-evaluated to the city benefiting the city. A certain multifunctional street corridors is applied.

What will the next phase – the developed motorization phase viewing the different age group structures look like? Answer to this question will be the subject of future research.

In general it is possible to predict that urban planning will react to the traffic effects more gently. The motorized and non motorized relation will be differentially segregated while keeping the acceptable level of mutual “irritation”. The future plans include underground traffic to make the functionality and spatial use more effective.

The whole functional-operating and spatial structure in relation to motorization will go through development during these basic phases of evolution.

Static Traffic

Most urban settlements in Košice had their static traffic planned for 1:5–8 level of motorization with the localization of parking lots on the terrain including the space reserved for garages (parking on the borders of settlements was not successful as parking in the immediate proximity of the flat is preferred even for the price of grass or side-walk blocking and decreasing the street efficiency). To satisfy the real needs of the motorists the greenery and playgrounds are being decreased, parking spots are being “sold“ and box garaging which does not fulfil the garage purpose any more is applied. The listed actions are in defiance with technical, aesthetic, biological and cultural criteria of quality living.

The following density of surfaces must be applied if the secured needs of the urban settlement are to be met.

230 people / ha 12.66%
290 people / ha 7.83%
400 people / ha 7,36%

While having density of 230 people / ha and the level of motorization 1: 4,2 it is possible to realize all static traffic demand on the terrain.

While having density 360 people / ha and the level of motorization 1: 3,8 there is no space left on the terrain. Investment costs of static traffic for one citizen after the increase of mobilization from 1: 5,8 to 1: 3,8 will rise cca 1,6 times while 200 people / ha density and 2,6 times while 400 people / ha density.

While level 1,38 will an increased density from 230 to 290 people / ha will lead to 3,4 times rise of cost on one citizen and increased density to 400 people / ha 5, 7 times.


It is possible to consider these solutions in the traffic – urban settlement relation:

· To provide the urban settlement with new civil functions and production for the reasons of increasing the labour opportunities and increasing the transportation effectivity.

· Function localization and capacity must be set while viewing proportional burden in time and space, increasing day time transportation effectivity in urban settlements, to apply hygienic zones and to differentiate urban density

· to increase multi-functionality on the level of the district, precinct, object or flat by vertical or horizontal layering

· to increase the endurance of the urban settlements against hygienic negatives of the active traffic regulations (elimination of the noise in the core) and passive regulations (elimination of the noise made by the movement of the core and spatial composition, object)

· to increase function intensity, operational and architectural-urban image on one side and optimum level of extension on the other one as an expression of the environment inner complexity

· to ensure variability, flexibility and adaptability for the outer functional, operational, capacity and ideological-compositional processes development.

· To optimize the segmentation of operational efficiency of the unhealthy and spatially demanding individual motorized transportation to the advantage of non-motorized and mass transportation as follows:

– by emending the proportions of organization cells of the urban settlement
 – by increasing the density net and frequency of mass transportation
 – by identifying the nods and centres of static traffic and the urban settlement
 – by strategically benefiting identifying an urban sceleton with non-motorized means of transportation

· To increase continuity, integrity and hierarchy of the environment, principles ensuring the better organization of the inner life and outer relation to the urban settlement and to make it more organic

· To extend the complexity of aesthetic and other psychological perception of individuals during their walks in the urban settlements

· To ensure the cultural-historical and spatial continuity of the environment with original structures

· To create conditions to provide people with the opportunity to participate in creating the form and the content (to fight the demands to leave for their own – cottage, studio, workshop, shop, etc.)

· To form corridors and nodes of transportation relations in a way of optimal identification of content for given speed, character of transportation and communication functional

· To extend technical and technological means of adjust the quality of the urban settlement in project activities (interactive simulation of urban space in motion,
elimination of hygienic negatives – sound, air pollutants, etc…)

· To increase the effectivity of realization methods while ensuring the complex quality of the urban settlement.

Author: Ing. arch. Dušan Burák, Csc.