Sidewalk Geometries

I’m taking a design workshop this semester with Tarek Rakha and Christoph Reinhart, a course called “Comfort in Motion” that investigates bikeability and outdoor thermal comfort in Cambridge. We’re in the process of developing a metric to assess bikeability, which has involved biking around the city and rating streets in categories such as street infrastructure, landscaping, car use, and terrain.

We also did a walk audit with Dan Burden from the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute. He pointed out the various ways Cambridge streets are designed for cars rather than bikers and pedestrians, but also the many ways they are improving this: raised crosswalks, painted bike lanes, and alternating parking on different sides of the street to force a slight turn in the road, making drivers slow down.

All this has me constantly thinking about street design.

I visited a friend from college in San Francisco this summer, someone who also constantly thinks about the design of everyday things. Ben, who now works at the intersection of design and programming, recently sent me this image:


On our walks around San Francisco, Ben noted the really messy mitering happening in many of these tactile patterns where the sidewalk slopes down to the street.

He followed that photo with this one:


The lines fit into a continuous geometry, but they’re not really mitered.

Walking from Central Square to studio the other day, however, I spotted a really lovely solution to the age-old problem of lines meeting at a corner. This was outside the gas station by the MIT Museum:


Now your turn: any interesting sidewalk lines in your life lately?



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