A new video from Streetfilms makes the point that walking infrastructure needs a lot more attention and investment.
This TreeHugger is an architect but I have become obsessed with urban design. It first hit me a few years ago when I read a terrific article by Alex Steffen, where he wrote What We Build Dictates How We Get Around, which I thought was fundamentally backward. In fact, How we get around dictates what we build. That's why this post directly follows one on how walking reduces blood pressure and another in praise of slow bikes. If we design our cities around walkability and get people out of their cars, we can have healthier, happier and unsquished citizens.
That's one reason I was so impressed with this new film from Streetfilms and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP). It points out the benefits of walkable cities, and how walking really is a human right.
Every person has the right to walk. Choosing to move on foot—to work, school, or the market—should be safe and easy for urban residents. Yet city streets are increasingly being built for high-speed, personal vehicles, with hazardous intersections and narrow or nonexistent sidewalks. In many cities, simply getting anywhere by foot has become a dangerous: thousands of pedestrians are killed on the world’s roads each week.
The video does a good job of explaining why we have to change this.
Pedestrians, wheelchair users, children, and the elderly deserve the right to walk safely and comfortably to their destinations. Reshaping our cities to encourage walking is part of building a sustainable future, and avoiding the high costs to build and maintain urban highways. Building better spaces for walking saves lives, emissions, and promotes urban equity.
More great videos at Streetfilms.org
As the ITDP has noted before, walking is just one of the many things we have to do to make better cities; read their wonderful presentation of Transit Oriented Development.