Monthly Archives: November 2004

Does “Too Much of a Good Thing” Apply to Sidewalks?



By Dom Nozzi


I am convinced that it is, indeed, quite possible to build sidewalks that are too wide.


If a street is not dense or active enough to experience more than a tiny trickle of pedestrian volumes, a relatively wide sidewalk can create a perception that the street-life is dead, even if it is not entirely dead. A narrower sidewalk can, in such a circumstance, make the street seem more alivwide-sidewalk2e, even if the pedestrian volume remains the same. In addition, a relatively wide sidewalk can create an ambience that is not human-scaled and the feeling of being over-exposed—particularly if there are few or no pedestrians using it.


In my experience, pedestrians often enjoy the sociability of walking a moderately crowded sidewalk (often produced by a relatively narrow sidewalk), in stark contrast to our preference when driving a car on a crowded road. I would add that some of the best walking experiences I’ve had have been on Charleston and Nantucket sidewalks, cafenitewhich tend to be quite narrow.






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