When a waterway passes through a city, there is always a critical decision to be made: should there be a street alongside, or not. Here, both choices have been made. What is apparently a factory on the left borders the canal directly, where it has idea access to barges for freight. The opposite side has an adjacent street. Most of Venice does not have walkways along the canals - rather, they cross it at approximately right angles.
There are advantages to both approaches. When the canals are crossed, one has brief but lovely views along the waterway from the bridges. When the canals are bordered by streets, pedestrians have a constantly changing view of the water. In most cases, the decision is made on practical grounds.
No one interested in cities should miss Ghent. I am given to understand that it has recently implemented a carfree area of some size.
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