Tuesday, January 17, 2006
My buddy rpsnino is writing about shared space in Dutch streetscapes for cars, bikes, and peds. The above image is a sketch (click it for a larger version) that I made in Amsterdam this summer (the scan is blurry because the sketchbook was literally dropped into the Grand Canal in Venice). Since a few of my classmates in the Will Bruder studio will be visiting Amsterdam and Rotterdam in a few weeks I'm posting it.
It tries to show that the typical street section in the center of Amsterdam layers traffic into a rough gradient from the most deadly (trams) to the least (people on foot). The striations are formed by semi-permeable membranes that allow the users to sneak out into the next deadliest layer if it's necessary to get around something. Cars can pass on the tram tracks, but they had better watch their back! Ditto for peds wandering through the bollards into the bike lanes. The whole thing works pretty smoothly partly because the membranes work only in one direction: trams can't jump off their tracks and wreak havoc in the car lanes, and bikers can't take a hard turn through the bollards without slowing down to ped speed first. The real winners here are, I think, the people on bikes. They move through the city in the most efficient way, and between the apparent chaos and all the actual safety rules, riding a bike in Amsterdam is pretty fun.