Though unlikely this was installed to give street restaurants a place to hang their towels and stash their mops, Bangkok street-restauranteurs didn’t wait for a gilded invitation to start repurposing the sets of mysterious pink rings bolted to the large concrete structure in the middle of this patch of sidewalk near Ari Station. A clever means of pulling latent functionality out of pre-existing urban infrastructure.
How can cities more intentionally design multipurpose sidewalk-level infrastructure that, instead of discouraging sidewalk-based commerce, actually encourages it? In many places sidewalks are not viewed merely as people-ways, but as a commercial space. Instead of instituting challenging-to-enforce across-the-board bans, this potential commercial space should be embraced and sensibly moderated to accommodate both the free movement of pedestrians while also facilitating commercial exchange between them. Jane Jacobs has written at length about how mixed-use development encourages street life, so shouldn’t such a philosophy be extended to sidewalks as well? That is where multipurpose infrastructure suited to accommodating street-based enterprises comes in – what better way to naturally regulate sidewalk-based commerce than encouraging and supporting it with infrastructure that naturally manages density of vendors in a given location?