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In Barcelona, the streets are designed in a way that force you to explore the city in a zigzag, not a straight line. It is practically impossible to walk in a straight line because the crosswalks aren’t placed at the corner. When you need to cross a street, the cross walk is 50 meters to the right or left of the perpendicular cross street. As such, you are forced to turn onto a street for around 30 seconds to 3 minutes depending on the light, where you then encounter life, people, and stores that you wouldn’t even have had the opportunity to see had the crosswalks been placed exactly at the corner, as they usually are in most cities. I have created a narrative in my head that this kind of street design is reflective of Catalan Modernism architecture, the undulating walls of La Pedrera seem to be reproduced in the footsteps of every step one takes in the city. Each step brings to life the the soul of Gaudí.
I have no idea if this is safer or even better urban design, but it definitely makes for a more experiential urban immersion for the pedestrian. One could claim this is inefficient design in terms of the Western way of valuing time. I mean it’s true, you do need to add extra time to account for the all the zigzags (Google maps doesn’t account for these crosswalks!). Though this type of design places a greater emphasis on time as an experiential encounter with the unknown — who knows what you end up seeing when you temporarily enter into a street that was never part of your plan of getting from point A to point B?
Does anyone know of other cities that have this kind of street/crosswalk design? And where else can I read more about urban street design in Barcelona?
#livefieldnote`
#triciainbarcelona (at Barcelona, Spain)

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