European cities vs Canadian cities

On the first day of our Urban History class the students were asked a simple question about some differences between European cities and the city of Kelowna. Even though we’ve had several newer class discussions since this topic was brought up I could not help but feel as though there was still more to say on this subject.

 Many good points were mentioned during this discussion such as different means of inter-city transportation,


(Venice, Italy 2012)



(Villach, Austria 2012)



(Rome, Italy 2012)

Food… (especially the manner of preparing said food),


(Paros, Greece 2012)

and of course the general ambiance.


(Paris, France 2012)

Probably one of the most prominent differences I noticed when visiting European cities was that even though like all towns and cities they too can get congested by road traffic, there is still almost always a large portion of the city specifically for pedestrians. Even though most of these cities are generally much more heavily populated than your average Canadian city, anytime I was in an area that was reserved solely for people and not vehicles the vibe of the whole city felt more relaxed. In contrast to the normal hustle bustle feel you get when visiting a large city. Of course this still cannot be attributed to all cities in Europe but many of the ones I have been through during my travels have not disappointed in this respect.   

 A more specific example of pedestrian streets was in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The streets they set aside for pedestrian use were massive and could undoubtedly be enough space to allow people as well as road traffic and yet they were not used in that way.


(Ljubljana, Slovenia 2012)

Even though the streets do not appear busy and overcrowded they certainly could if the pedestrians were pushed to sidewalks. Then all the middle space could be used for vehicles like in so many Canadian cities. However by doing that you are discouraging exercise as well as taking away from the whole ambience of the city.

There were many things about European cities I fell in love with during my travels but still to this day the thing that stands out the most is the fact that you can be in a large overpopulated city such as London, Paris or Ljubljana and without even having to leave you can also get a relaxed small town vibe simply by heading away from the motor ways. I feel like all cities should incorporate this feature.  


6 thoughts on “European cities vs Canadian cities

  1. The point you make is very interesting, I think that because European cities generally tend to be older and from the medieval period, when walking was the primary and only way of transportation, in comparison with most Canadian cities. So there are certain cities in Europe which still keep areas in which walking can be used to get around the city. Whereas in Canadian cities walking areas tend to be more for exercise versus transportation. For example: the Galloping Goose Trail in Victoria, Stanley Park in Vancouver, and, Mission Creek in Kelowna, and while Banff relies heavily on pedestrian traffic to get around the city, or the bus (it is near impossible to drive in Banff because there are always people walking in the middle of the road).

    • That’s a good point too Karoliina and I do love all the trails and hiking we have in bc but I just think it would be nice if we could also incorporate this idea into our cities so that walking was once again seen as normal means of transportation through town. Because I love walking and I don’t know about everyone else but I don’t love walking along beside noisy traffic and even though I know people do it there are so many more people who could enjoy a pedestrian only side of the city.

  2. Where do bikes fit in this description. They can hardly be ignore, being a main way of locomotion in many major cities of Europe. Should they be allowed in the sections reserved for pedestrians? or compete with automotive traffic on the already crowded and narrow roads?

    • Christine I guess I should have added to the blog that there were also many cyclists using the pedestrian walkways when I was in Europe (sometimes even scooters) but I would definitely have to agree with you cyclists need to be included.

  3. How does moving pedestrians to the sidewalk discourage exercise? They would still have a designated area to walk.
    Great post though!

    • Jamseet I guess I shouldn’t have said that it ‘discourages exercise’, I meant more that it encourages people to walk more when there is such a large portion of the city specifically for pedestrians. As well as certain shops that you can only get to by foot which again encourages walking in my opinion.

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