Sidewalks and streets exist for circulation but serve many more purposes. Their meanings are bound up with more than just transportation, as they serve as the main public places of cities. They help maintain the social fabric of the city.
Cities differ from town and suburbs in that they are full of strangers. Thus, feeling safe amongst strangers is an additional task of the streets. As soon as they feel unsafe, people will use them less which only serves to perpetuate the cycle of decay.
This fear is not contained within specific areas of a city, it can be pervasive throughout even the nice, quiet, homogenous neighborhoods.
The public peace, of the streets and sidewalks, is not kept by the police, but by a network of voluntary controls and standards and enforced by the people who hold them. This is not maintained by a thinning out of people–danger of trading the characteristics of cities for suburbs.
Three main qualities of a street apt to handle strangers:
- A clear demarcation of public and private spaces
- Eyes upon the street
- Sidewalks must have continuous users
This task cannot be shifted onto another form of public space, such as a park. But, you can’t make people watch or use streets they have no reason to watch or use.
Requisite for surveillance=substantial quantity of stores and public spaces, used evening and night. Why?
- Give concrete reasons for using the sidewalks
- Draw people to spaces that otherwise might not have a use or be traveled
- Storekeepers and businessmen as proponents of public peace
- Activity of some people attracts more activity (people watching!)