A living network that promotes and supports the small businesses and community initiatives that are crucial to the well-being of our neighborhoods.
All over Europe and in some cities in the US, I find many excellent streets for walking. — and its finally becoming clear to me why so many streets in Asia and Hong Kong fail this test so completely. The street in the picture is in Zurich; it’s not a famous street; I don’t even remember its name. At first glance, it may seem to have many things “wrong” with it: Narrow sidewalks, partly cobblestone (try that with heels), no awning for shelter from the rain, no retail presence to liven up the way, and buildings sheer up against the sidewalk, making the sidewalk seem smaller than it is.
But actually I found this street a pleasure to stroll down. Why?
First is the feeling of complete openness. There is no railing and the curb is very thin. You almost blend into the street. And although it takes more “attention” to walk on a street without a railing, in exchange for paying attention, you become more aware of your surroundings, to great reward. You start to notice the texture of the buildings, the lampposts, doorways and gates. You appreciate what is there.
Could a railing do all that? I’m convinced it’s the first step. Not only is it the removal of a barrier. But it is also that in Hong Kong, railings are the first encroachment of private agents onto public property. Because a railing is not just a railing. In Hong Kong, they attract all kinds of crap – advertisements, trash piles, mops and hair salon towels out to dry, chained-up delivery buggies. In Hong Kong, companies and people latch onto a railing as if its space to be conquered.
So, yes, I’m in search of walkable streets in Hong Kong. I can’t go to Zurich, or Paris, or Budapest, every day. And yet I love to walk on streets. If you know of any gems in Hong Kong, please tell me about them!