How would our neighborhoods change if a majority of the streetscape were not used primarily as storage for cars?
Children playing a game of pick-up soccer
Older people strolling by and sitting on stoops
Couples passing on bikes
Toddlers free to walk and fall without worry
Benches full of teenagers gossiping and giggling
Someone reading a book or a magazine
If we want our streets to be ALIVE we have to put people first and reconsider that instead of being co-opted as parking lots for rarely used cars, they could be thriving centers of city life.
The hillside town of Spoleto, Italy is a challenge to walk. Imagine beautiful continuous, steep hills throughout the historical center.
As residents began to abandon the hassles of parking in the older town for the new malls in the peripheral areas, the Spoleto city planning department went to work brainstorming ideas to invite folks of all ages to visit, shop and live in “centro storico”.
So what did they do to motivate residents and tourists to walk those steep hills? The city invested significant funds into creating alternative mobility, which dis-incentivizes cars and motivates priority for pedestrians:
- created multiple underground parking right outside of town with a connected moving walking, protective from the elements of weather
- developed a system of these protective moving walkways, allowing residents in town to traverse one level of the city to another
- designed well place maps to indicate walking paths, directions and distances between sights and streets
- built a beautiful, extended outdoor escalator system, placed alongside the ancient walls of the city, providing breathtaking views
From 8 to 80 years old, anyone can access and enjoy this Umbrian town by leaving the car behind and going for a walk.
Photo credit: Aminah Ricks
Each layer is created by days and years, people and movements, politics and community bumping and flowing into and through each other like jazz notes – the city is built in moments, it develops, matures, ages, becomes derelict and is reborn in some small way everyday, through the air, through the streets, through the city-zens.
Aminah Ricks, 2017, Nolita NYC
Photo Credit: Aminah Ricks