|Via del Corso on a Saturday night.|
|Nova Via. A rather old street.|
|Via dei Condotti from Piazza di Spagna|
Over here, we love spatial segregation. Streets are streets, plazas are plazas, parks are parks, and parking lots are parking lots. People in one place, trees in one place, bikes in one place, and cars in another. None shall mingle. Over there, streets and piazzas are funky combinations of people, bikes, cars, architecture, food and open space. Often, a piazza is simply a slightly widened portion of a street in front of a building. This is as it should be. The life of the city, of the buildings, and of the open spaces where people live, work and play is given precedence over how people move from activity to activity. This system can best be described as civilized.
|The guy with the baby stroller would be arrested in America.|
Take, for instance, that act of street crossing. If you want to cross Market Street, you find an intersection and wait for a light. From there, simple rules apply to both pedestrian and driver. In Rome, on several streets with a similar sections (it’s tough to say as individual lanes aren’t generally marked, only the centerlines), signalized intersections don’t always exist, and crossings are made at crosswalks. To cross, you
The Roman public realm is driven by civic agreement. In fact, they fulfill the promise of the concept- it is truly shared space. We, on the other hand, are selfish, no matter which mode we choose. Our transportation system is designed for a group of spoiled young children who can’t play together without having a referee (police) or chaperone (lawyer) supervising the action. They drive like maniacs, yet are patient and respectful of pedestrians. Their pedestrians are bold and entitled, yet make concessions for cars, trucks and transit. While at first glance their system is chaotic and disorderly, it is at its core sophisticated and civilized. Our system is segregated, and therefore adversarial. So, while we have a long way to go, the good news is that we have another 2,800 years to work on it.