“Walkers are 'practitioners of the city,' for the city is made to be walked. A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities. Just as language limits what can be said, architecture limits where one can walk, but the walker invents other ways to go.” Rebecca Solnit, author of Wanderlust: A History of Walking, struck me with this quote. The European Union has aggressively been working towards a goal of building walkable cities. At the moment, Paris is on pace to reach said goal by 2017. In the United Kingdom, Nottingham, a city with a healthy student population (lacking personal transportation), as well as an elderly collective, could truly benefit from work towards a walkable city.
When thinking about sustainability, a walkable city is well-connected with easy accessibility for tourists, students, and residents, assisting in the revitalisation of the economy. Although the education of residents and the preparation that would be involved to help them through such a radical change would take some time, the benefits of this transformation would be almost instantaneous.
Economic and Environmental Benefits:
A Silicon Valley group recently released a report studying the patterns of economy and land use patterns. It was discovered that walkable cities promote interaction - a key staple of new economy dependant on innovation, accessibility, and interaction.
Nottingham’s air quality rating is exceptionally low, as scored and reported by the British Sustainability Rating. Limiting the amount of cars on the road would significantly help the environment, as well as help improve the health of residents.
Urban planners see the advantage of new urbanism, as retailers work to recreate the culture and energy in these rebuilt areas.
When a city’s attractions are less than accessible, hardship is created on the tourist that is dependant on a city’s infrastructure when getting around. By increasing transportation freedom, tourists will have a grander scope of the cities architecture and history.
Pedestrian oriented infrastructure is extremely vital in the outlook of urban planning and, as always, a city’s future in sustainability. What is your city’s walking score? What more could be done to improve the score?
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.