During my travels through Haarlem, I noticed there are many types of sidewalk with various heights and characteristics; all designed to serve a specific purpose. Look at them.
The Bump Sidewalk
The first sidewalk I meet is when I am in the car. It is not just a sidewalk; it is the precise place of the intersection of two streets. Here the intersection rises and falls with a height of approximately 10 cm at its peak. This is designed in such a way to reduce the speed of vehicles. These ‘bumps’ are simply made with asphalt or pieces of rubber. You can find examples on Nahtegalenlaan, in the direction of Vogelenzang to Zandvoort.
The High Concrete Sidewalk (30cm)
This sidewalk serves to protect the bus stop and bus lane from bicycles, cars and other vehicles from parking there.
The Tall Concrete Sidewalk (8-10cm)
On these sidewalks, cars and other vehicles can park in the spaces provided or they can enter a street. This design means people can travel freely without obstruction to the accessibility of the bus stop and bus lane.
The Inclined Sidewalk
This is the most common sidewalk. Tiles of cement are placed parallel to the roads, pavements, driveways and bicycle lanes respectively. The inclined sidewalk is there to ease access for travelers to cross various paths. The example below is on Dreef.
The Never Ending Brick Sidewalk
Haarlem is full of these brick style sidewalks which are arranged in various geometric patterns. These brick sidewalks come in an array of sizes (10x10x200 cm – 20x10x200 cm) and styles. Some of these sidewalks have a gradient rise and fall, others do not. Sometimes the bricks are laid in a way to indicate bicycle lanes and foot paths. You will also notice these brick sidewalks are always under maintenance.
The Tall Black and White Sidewalk
This sidewalk is designed to differentiate the bicycle lane, two-way traffic, bus lanes/stops and footpaths. These black and white sidewalks are mostly used on busy roads, such as, Wagenweg.
The Pedestrian Crossing
This sidewalk is designed for people who travel on foot to cross busy roads safely. They are indicated with white tiles that stretch across all of the various paths. Included on these crossings are tiles with bumps on them to help the visually impaired know when the start and end of the crossing is.
The Parking Space
The final type of pavement, situated among the trees in front of my house, is a strip about 200 cm. It is designed to accommodate parked cars.
To quote a song by Niccolò Fabi, “every place has sidewalk right”, in his album CARE OF TIME, 2003.
And this is proof that the Dutch city is made to measure of man, being the man that measure of all things, and so long as human perfection is a model of Renaissance architecture, here it is used to model the contemporary urban planning.