Pedestrians prefer shade over safety? Research in Malang Indonesia’s Green City

This medium sized temperate city in Eastern Java has taken advantage of its milder climate and existing green infrastructure to increase its total amount of greenery – the cities green strategy has increased its proportion of urban green space to more than 30%.

One of the most successful elements of the cities plan to increase urban green space has been involving local businesses in developing new green spaces. This has involved the development of a CSR plan to get companies to pay for and develop public green spaces

This hasn’t always been linked with pedestrian friendly urban design. As the walking environment has sometimes been compromised to favour of street trees and other greenery. With urban green space and trees reducing the widths of footways and reducing the quality and level of footway surfacing.

However, a study of the quality of pedestrian environments in the centre of Malang highlighted how on streets with only partial natural shading from trees (shading on half of the street) – pedestrians preferred to walk on the shaded side of streets, even when the alternative side has pavements, that are safer walking environments and provide more space for people.

Central Malang street where more pedestrians use shade instead of dedicated footways

In summary – This example of Malang shows how dedicated Urban Green Space strategies can work to increase the % of space. In addition, that green infrastructure on streets, especially in sunny and hot climates should be thought of as essential pedestrian infrastructure; perhaps even more important than dedicated pedestrian space.