Whether you’re in a quiet suburb an urban downtown, most public spaces are designed for cars instead of pedestrians.
An ingenious illustration by Swedish artist Karl Jilg shows just how car-centric our reality is:
- Karl Jilg/Swedish Road Administration
In the image, Jilg depicts city streets as gorges, crosswalks as wobbly planks, and sidewalks as shallow ledges to show how little space pedestrians are allowed to inhabit in a typical intersection. The Swedish Road Administration commissioned the work in 2014, according to Vox.
A number of cities, however, are attempting to reserve more street space for pedestrians. One of the world’s longest pedestrian-only streets is a 0.7-mile-long shopping district in Copenhagen called Strøget. And New York City instituted pedestrian-only zones in Times Square and Herald Square in 2009, and urges residents to go car-free on Earth Day every year.
Europe’s largest car-free space is Venice’s Centro Storico, a 3-mile-long medieval city that has managed to stay pedestrian-centric. But that type of of urban plan is not the norm. Modern cities are generally designed to favor personal vehicles rather than public transit or pedestrians.
Jilg’s illustration suggests a different way of understanding how public space gets divided.