Mobile Food Vending and the Public Realm: A Seattle Study
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Due to its position in the public realm, low public-investment costs and popularity among residents, mobile food vending presents a potentially effective means of improving streetscapes and amenities within a neighborhood. The flexible and adaptable nature of mobile food vending provides opportunities for increased vitality, walkability and pedestrian activity for the public realm. This research explores the design potential of mobile food vending two-fold: if mobile food vending is effective at contributing to Seattle's design goals of an "attractive, vibrant and liveable city" and what qualities of vending make it effective at addressing these goals. The research used structured observational studies for 20 vending sites within Seattle and evaluated the ways in which mobile food vendors addressed these citywide goals through three site characteristics: public or private ownership of the property, the duration of the vending unit and distance from the sidewalk. Through these evaluations, this research has found great variability in the ability for mobile food vendors to address design criteria and issues of walkability based on these factors. The distance from the sidewalk was the most showed the most variability in these results, however locating on public or private property as well as a vendor's duration has additional implications to how vendors affect the public realm.
- Urban planning