Let's take one example that I've been reflecting on for years - the placement of chairs in public spaces. As a big fan of William H. Whyte
, I greatly value — and pay attention to — sitting surfaces in public spaces. But why is it that the vast majority of people only ever sit where there is a clearly-demarcated chair? One of the main streets in Berkeley, California is Telegraph Avenue, and a couple years ago, the city decided to install some green benches at very random street intersections on Telegraph. And voila — people start sitting on them. Why couldn't they sit on the curb before, before the benches took up the same space? Really, these benches don't look much cleaner than the curb. Another main street in Berkeley is College Avenue. A while ago, the city put in some flat, raised surfaces that look like chairs, for a section of that street. And you start seeing people sit on those surfaces. Why do these same people not sit nearly as frequently on other flat, raised surfaces, like steps of staircases, or short mailboxes?