A heritage of Roman culture developed by Portuguese during the nineteenth century, the Portuguese pavement is a good example of the potential dilemmas that can arise from age-friendly initiatives. That ancient city technology is not only a smart and eco-friendly solution but also an infinite source of inspiration for artists.
However, when it comes to pedestrian safety, in particular the safety of frail citizens, the Portuguese pavement might not be the most adequate technology available. In fact, it might represent a significant increased risk.
After a controversial decision, traditional neighborhoods in Lisbon, like Campolide and Saldanha, have already started to replace part of their traditional stone pavement. Initially, that movement seems to represent a clear dilemma that can arise when cities try to adapt in order to become more age-friendly. Replacement could mean the extinction of that important Portuguese tradition. But a solution found in Lisbon – the combination of both new and old pavements style – has opened a new window of opportunities.
The compromise found in this case might be also a good example of simple adjustments that can make the whole difference for an ageing society. The anxiety experienced during this relatively simple public decision is a common experience during the process of adapting places and spaces. The capacity to find compromises is perhaps the key skill to advance the age-friendly agenda.