Thursday, September 2, 2010

Worldwide Walking: Brazil and El Salvador

A good streetscape doesn't just provide a pleasant place for a pedestrian to walk, it also helps contribute to a community's identity. It's one thing to walk down a nice street, it's another to walk down a nice street that also tells you something about the people who use it every day. Take these sidewalk treatments from Rio de Jainero. The patterns are so iconic that you don't need anything else to tell you what neighborhood you're in:

Then there's the small town of La Palma in El Salvador, made famous when the artist Ferrnando Llort made it his hub. Now there are dozens of factories in the village devoted to his style of art, which has spilled out onto the city's streets.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Worldwide Walking: Peru

You may have heard of Bogota's crossing mimes, but did you know that Lima had some too? Here they are helping pedestrians cross a street in the heart of the city:

Not that they're always essential, since Lima has some great pedestrian-only streets...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Worldwide Walking: Paris

Enough people extol the virtues of Europe's pedestrian environment that I don't think I need to go into too much detail, but I do have a few things to share. If you read my early post on the history of sidewalks you might recall that although London was the first to adopt sidewalks, but France was also quick to the pedestrian pathway game. Here are some pictures of Paris' early take on the sidewalk, covered shopping arcades:

Note that while they're certainly beautiful (and weather-proof), I suspect that they were--and continue to be--exclusively for the use of the middle/upper classes, which defeats some of the egalitarian purpose of the sidewalk space.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Worldwide Walking: Tokyo

Inspired by a recent webinar from the PBIC on pedestrian safety lessons from around the world, I wanted to share my own walking images from afar. This week I'll innundate you with some of my favorites from Asia, Europe, and (of course) Latin America, starting with my visit to Japan in 2008.

You might already have heard of their amazing bullet trains, but it turns out Tokyo outdoes us in just about all things transportation (and don't get me started on disaster preparedness). Some of my favorite pedestrian-friendly features were this series of pocket parks. What was surprising about them wasn't their diminutive size (given that space is at a premium in the city), but how much they could pack into a small space. Makes you think about what we might be able to do with the right-of-way if we cut down our oversized roadways.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

This week on foot

I had a little trouble this week finding stories that weren't along the lines of "Pedestrian Killed in Crosswalk," or "Pedestrian Dies After Being Struck by Bus"--but lest you think vehicles and trains are the only dangers pedestrians face, this week the New York Post warns us that Crews ignore 'dangerous' trees in Central Park. As if pedestrians don't have enough to worry about them without the threat of tree branches falling on their heads.

And pedestrians' troubles hardly end with trees. Even when they cross the street in the crosswalk during the walk signal, they might still be charged for a crime, as in the Los Angeles-area city where Baldwin Park police consider citing pedestrian who was hit by bus in crosswalk.

With all those dangers out there, it's nice to know that Purdue planning to hire crossing guards to help improve safety for pedestrians around campus.
Perhaps what we need is a major international sporting event around here. Maybe then we'll get our own World Cup legacy: more bids to get South Africans out of their cars and into pedestrian-only plazas like the Fan Walk that surrounded the Cape Town stadium.