Here’s how cars and people should share streets

I’ve blogged several times about my observations in Paris earlier this year, but few things on that trip were as interesting as seeing the way cars and people shared small streets. Here are some examples from the delightful Ile Saint-Louis:

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Note here that pedestrians dominate these streets. People cross at will and frequently, which is easy to do because the street is so narrow.

But the streets also haven’t been “pedestrianized”; as these pictures show, cars still use the streets to get around when needed. But because there are so many people around the cars are required to move slowly and safely. The only kind of auto-ped accident that is going to happen here is a tire accidentally rolling over someone’s foot.

Which is a start contrast to our streets in the U.S. As a cops reporter at a daily newspaper, one of my tasks is to write about cars hitting people — often with deadly or near-deadly results. These types of accidents are extremely common and we usually blame speeding, or wearing dark clothing, or just fate itself. There’s a sense that “accidents” are “no one’s fault” and are unavoidable.

But they are completely avoidable, as the street above indicates. There, putting people inches away from a moving car isn’t actually that dangerous because the street is designed for both types of locomotion. Paris obviously has some streets that aren’t safe to traverse on foot, but the point is that it has quite a few that are just like this: small, safe and multimodal. That’s an obvious approach to design that would save lives, but one that is almost non-existent in the American West.

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One comment

  1. Pingback: Those small Parisian streets are also cheaper | About Town

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