I’m probably one of the few people to notice or care about these details, but it is probably as a result of the multitude of places I have been. Seemingly small facts about the built environment can add up to a very different experience of it. Here are two small things I have been noticing in Buenos Aires:
1. Sidewalk paving tiles. Unlike many other places, Buenos Aires sidewalks are largely covered in thin tiles of all shapes and sizes, and in many colors and patterns. This causes all manner of problem in the long run as they loosen, break, and crack due to a variety of factors. Most annoying after a rainstorm, when one is very likely to have a loose tile squirt up onto one’s pant leg whatever sludge is trapped below. Also annoying as they sometimes shift and slip, and generally look like hell after a few years. Compare this with their cheaper cousins of poured concrete which hold up better (if not perfect) or the more expensive (such as French) sidewalks where heavy, much thicker stones of granite are put in place and grouted. Thin paving tiles are an eyesore and menace if you ask me.
2. A pause between reds. One of the traffic details I quite like here is that there is a couple second pause between a light turning red and its cross street turning green. This seems to make crossing the street for pedestrians quite a bit safer, as it is a couple of seconds longer before the cross traffic lunges forward. During this pause there is a yellow to warn of imminent change in the cross direction, not solely when the light is about to turn red in the first.