Martin Hrouda. photo: Jiří Kotal
Martin Hrouda. photo: Jiří Kotal

City Details. Editorial ERA21 #03/2023

Martin Hrouda

As active users of public space, as skaters, we’re often intrigued by the smallest of details which others pass without notice. Joints in the pavement, bench edges, materials, barrier-free accessibility or ease of movement around a city. Skaters spend a lot of time in the streets, so they understand the city and its workings quite well. They know the best places to spend their free time, where to stop and sit down, where to skate. They like the interaction with the city and its inhabitants, they prefer the city centre to the skatepark somewhere on the periphery. They also have a mutually influential relationship with other social stratas. So skaters just tend to be public space experts. You can quickly tell the quality of a space by the presence of a group of young people riding around on something.

In the end it is all of us who decide this quality. What our shared space looks like depends on the maturity and interest of our society. If we don’t care about our shared squared metres, then nothing is forcing politicians to manage public spaces accordingly, and they are the ones who have the most power. The most they’ll do is provide the basic function—safety and low maintenance come first. Which is not wrong, but there’s no added value. But why would they do more than they have to? There are only a few exceptions to this rule in Czechia. We wish to see more and more of them, that’s why we ask: please take an interest in what’s going on in the places where you live or spend your free time.

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