A strange thing I noticed in many southern european countries is the construction of pavements 1 or better How to build a pavement but discourage to use it.
First of all I’m from Germany, a country where there are arguably a lot of pavements, and they are really used, people complain if they are not well maintained, you can reach shops from your home by using pavements, even in small villages, and don’t need to worry having to share your way with car traffic.
So when you visit southern european countries you notice the following:
- There are fewer pavements. Nothing to complain about, different countries, different environments.
- These few pavements though show a couple of features which often make them utterly useless:
- height: they are so high compared to the street that you almost need to be a climber to reach them
- trees: for some reasons street planners in these regions seemed to fancy the idea that it’ll make a good impression to have trees in the middle of the pavement. Now it’s not a bad idea to have a pavement overshadowed by trees in countries where summers are hot. It’s a bad idea though to have trees which don’t leave room left nor right to pass (not to speak of parents with pushchairs or people in wheel chairs) and it’s also a bad idea to leave trees in a state where branches and twigs and leaves hang so low that only my little daughter can walk underneath without being scratched. Maybe they should hand out machetes before entering a pavement.
So the trees always force you to take a big step down onto the street, pass the tree and take another big step to get back to the pavement, every 10 meters or so. Not the idea of a nice pavement which people would actually use and enjoy walking on.
But maybe the planners never use pavements themselves because they all get paid lots of money which they invest in fancy cars and drive rather than walk so planning a pavement is really outside of their human experience. Maybe they’ve been given the job to build a pavement but they have simply no clue what a good or bad pavement could be.
Take away their cars and let them walk to the office for a change.
1 sidewalk for americans