Streets for People

Just finished reading Streets for People published by the OECD in 1974.

There are some excellent examples of what various cities have done around the world to pedestrianize their streets.  Since the book was published, many cities have developed even more pedestrian zones in their cities (Copenhagen is a prime example).

Back in 1974, Canada only rated 3 pages! The book mentions Sparks street in Ottawa and Montreal’s “Underground City” but I’m not sure if these two examples are representative of what people are trying to achieve with pedestrianization projects.
I’ve actually lived in Ottawa while I was a student and Sparks street dies after 5pm because all the civil servants go home. The real pedestrian activity is the Byward market and Bank street. Perhaps during the day it is lively but I wouldn’t know since I never went there during the day.  Montreal has certainly developed and expanded its underground city since 1974 but only Prince-Arthur has really been pedestrianised as-such.

It seems that North America has basically stagnated in the past 30 years.

The book has a great description of cars as wild animals (pg 49):

It is big and heavy but powerful, and capable of high speeds on straight, smooth surfaces…  It kills and maims humans and it is inclined to destroy members of its own race simply by running into them.

Up to now most people, especially those who belong to the “High-way Establishment”, have maintained that instead of taming the automobile, we should tame men.  Men are being taught and trained to perform tricks like walking on “Green” and stopping on “Red”, waiting patiently behind fences or chains and crossing only in places which look like zebras.  Men are also asked to use for their own housing and for all places of human activity only the left-over lands between the pasture lands and stables for automotive hordes.  The idea that man should be cowed into submission to the “animunculus” seems bizarre , yet it is one which is blindly followed wherever large herds of automobiles appear. 


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