The segregation of pedestrians from vehicles, by sidewalk pavements, has a relatively short history in China – and so the Chinese may find sharing space easier than the Europeans. The west has sold the souls of its cities to engineers – who are less public spirited and more concerned with the welfare of their own professions than one might wish. That is how the streets of Europe became highways with pedestrians squashed onto sidewalks. Nanjing Road in Shanghai, to the casual visitor, is a fine example of shared space dominated by pedestrians. Points to note:
- the electric float for passenger transport – with a door for every seat loading and unloading is simple
- electric and human-powered bicycles are allowed to mingle with the pedestrians where other streets cross the shared space
- fountains overlooked by LCD screens make a lively piazza garden-type
- ceramic pots decorate the street scene
I can’t imagine that the ‘imaginative’ engineers who control London’s ‘shared’ streets (eg around Covent Garden) would permit these innovations. They would for example want fountains and screens to be in plaza, pots to be screwed down and electric vehicles to be enclosed busses.
Before the Japanese invasion (as “Nanking Road”) it was a place the European’s to ‘ride’ in their vehicles. It ran from the Bund (which is still the Bund) to Shanghai Race Course, which is now the People’s Park. I congratulate Shangai’s urban designers on the transformations. The Chinese word 路, usually translated as ‘road’ is comprised of the characters for ‘foot’ and ‘place’ – making it an appropiate cagetorization for this type of space. The English word ‘road’ derives from the very ‘to ride’ and is therefore less appropriate. The English word ‘street’ would be a better choice. It derives from the Latin strata, from the verb sternere “to lay down, spread out, pave”. I therefore suggesting changing the name to ‘Nanjing Street.’