February 2, 2005

Designing For People, Not Cars

What does a place look like when it's designed for people, and not vehicles? CoolTown Studios posts a photo of a pedestrian-scale street with outdoor dining, noting how different such a scene would look in a typical American city: First of all, a line of cars would be parked at the curb, "which would immediately block any view more than 10' in front of you. " And, you wouldn't be able to see the building across the street, since it would be pushed back thanks to a street with multiple lanes of traffic each way.

Usually the only way we get nice, pedestrian-friendly views when sitting at an outdoor restaurant or cafe -- and not blocked by multiple lanes of parked and driving cars -- is either when overlooking a water view, or in a self-contained manufactured tourist environment like Quincy Market. Look at that photo from Paris at CoolTown Studios, and you realize that even on Boston's Newbury Street, parked and driving cars are still a big part of the streetscape. And at Downtown Crossing, one of the few pedestrian-only spots in the city, outdoor seating is penned off to the side between two anchor stores, not integrated into the main part of the streetscape.

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