Friday, April 9, 2010

47 Bleicherweg, Zurich

Take a look at this "complete street" in Zurich, Switzerland. Wide sidewalks are sheltered from the elements; a curbside bike lane set off with yellow paint; a single lane for vehicles; a sheltered platform island for tram passengers; a lane for the tram; another tram platform; then two tram lanes; then the opposite sidewalk. Can you think of an American street with three streetcar lanes, a bike lane, and only one lane for cars?


  1. Not quite, but Portland, Oregon's newly-completed transit mall has one lane for light rail, one for buses, and one for cars.
    But that's just an aside. My real comment is that while the Zurich street has all of the elements of a complete street, it still doesn't seem pedestrian friendly. If I were a pedestrian here, I certainly wouldn't want to linger. It's true that the sidewalks are wide, but the street is also very wide. The shelter is utilitarian at best. Besides street furniture, one of the things that's really missing here is greenery and some sort of barrier between the sidewalk and the traffic lanes. I don't think the complete streets movement has placed enough emphasis on pedestrian elements like this. You can build something safe and "complete" and it can still be such an unpleasant walking experience that a person would only do it as a last choice. If our goal is to go beyond simply providing a safe option and actually providing something inviting, we need to place more emphasis on design elements for pedestrians and bicyclists.

  2. Those are great points, thanks! Although personally I wouldn't mind sitting at that cafe table and watching the trams come and go.

  3. Ha ha, spoken like a true transportation nerd. Me, I would like to ride the tram to the end of the line and then ride another one to the end of the line, and then peruse the system map, and then...