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Woonerf street in Jimbocho, Tokyo | by Rob Ketcherside
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Woonerf street in Jimbocho, Tokyo

One street off of massive Yasukuni Doori.


Next door is an even smaller alley.


A woonerf is a street made for people. Cars can travel on a woonerf, but the street design lets them know that people are present not just on the sidewalks, but often within the roadway itself. Here, a commercial street in the Jimbocho neighborhood has high pedestrian volumes.


This was taken in the morning, just as bookstores opened. The pachinko parlors are about to open as well, and addicted gamblers mill about the street, chatting, waiting, reading books that they just picked up. The taxi and delivery "van" coming up the street are going slow. With a default speed limit in Tokyo of 30kph (19 mph), drivers are already primed for cautious driving on small streets. Throw in a cluttered street scape and it's the same to them as if there were visible pedestrians. So add in a few pedestrians and they go into hyperactive cautious mode.


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Taken on June 20, 2009