Phil LaCombe and Lou Thomas, co-founders of the website and blog Small Streets, believe that the Danish capital of Copenhagen provides a special environment for delightful walking. It is certainly not a shock to find such praise for the city that practically invented the concept of the modern, car-free shopping street, and that is the home residence of Jan Gehl, perhaps the world’s most celebrated planner of humanist streets and public spaces. But it is still a treat to run across an illustrated “virtual tour” of some of the reasons why.
That’s exactly what the authors offer to us in a blog post published last week. Using Google Earth’s Street View feature, they take us on a short walk, only about two blocks in length, that is full of great people-scaled urbanism, exactly the kind of fine-grained diversity that I wrote about in yesterday’s post. I went to Google Earth and “traveled” the same route in order to whet your appetite. But go to the original for more explanation.
The walk starts on the Skindergade, traveling northeast. Notice all the bikes on the right-hand side.
A quick left and we’re headed down the cobblestone Grabrodestraede. Little cafes are starting to appear, and there’s greenery in the distance.
Speaking of greenery, as we near a small square, shaded cafes appear on the right, more bikes on the left. It looks a heck of a lot more pleasant than the places I’ve been grabbing lunch lately
The square itself is anchored by a single tree in the center, surrounded by benches and more cafes. Small Streets says it’s only about a half-acre, but it’s quite obviously enough to create a sense of place, somewhere we want to be to relax and enjoy a drink, meal and conversation.
This is all rather simple, and Small Streets presents it in a more engaging fashion than I do here. But simplicity is kind of the point. The amount of density and building stock is just enough to entice and relax without creating a feeling of being overwhelmed or crowded. I would love to have more spaces like this in my own city.
It’s not a coincidence that older neighborhoods built before the dominance of cars in the late-20th century sometimes provide the kinds of places people love most. In order to conserve the natural and working landscape outside of cities, in order to create places where people enjoy walking and, when they need to drive, don’t have to drive far - all of which benefit the natrural environment - we need the kinds of cities that are worth loving.
Full Story: What a walkable city should look like
Source: The Atlantic Cities, May 22, 2012