I wrote here few months ago about the narrow sidewalks in Copenhagen. I praised them for bringing people together, making the city vibrant and livable.
A friend from Tel Aviv wrote me that narrow sidewalks are not good everywhere. As an example he brought King George Street in Tel Aviv, Israel especially on Friday mornings. In Israel the work week starts on Sunday, and the weekends are on Fridays and Saturdays. On Friday mornings, King George Street is full of people struggling through shoppers, stands, café-tables and bicycles.
I’m visiting Tel Aviv these days, so I could take some pictures from this vibrant street last Friday. The weather was almost unbearable: around 35°C and 70% of humidity. I’m so familiar with the feeling one gets when walking on King George Street, I used to live here for a while. It’s messy, crowded, uninviting. The narrow sidewalk is definitely not helping. What is the difference between the streets in Tel Aviv and in Copenhagen?
I can think of many. Here are some:
- Climate: crowded streets with narrow sidewalks can be considered cozy in the cold Danish capital, but in Tel Aviv they might be less attractive. Constantly touching sweaty strangers is actually disgusting.
Bicycle lanes: In many streets in Tel Aviv, cyclists ride on sidewalks, because the road is too dangerous and there are not enough bicycle lanes. Narrow sidewalks with cyclists driving around pedestrians is quite dangerous.
Amount of street users: King George is one of busiest streets in Tel Aviv’s downtown. It is so crowded that even with a double sized sidewalk it would feel crowded.
Regulations: Tel Aviv municipality doesn’t strictly enforce its regulations regarding store owners illegally displaying their goods outside their stores. Having a sidewalk where every centimeter matters t would make a huge difference changing this
At the end, it’s all about the context. Narrow sidewalks can be attractive and lively, but only in the right setting, and definitely not in one of the city’s busiest streets.