As I work on the foot-path project and write out my umpteenth article on car-free cities I stumbled upon the delightfully compiled and thoroughly analysed walk-score of various cities. While we are all rightly worried about the financial prowess of our cities through very important figures of GDP and the like, also worrying about the escalating fuel prices and war-ridden oil bearing countries this is a score one may want to take a look at.
In regard to sustainability of our cities, transportation guzzles our planet’s resources while at the same time polluting our atmosphere. In terms of space, road networks take away about 30% of land space. Facing high environmental issues from food security to acute power shortage and over that lifestyle disorders we may want to introduce into our lives a few changes that may target many an issue at a time. One of it is walking. While I agree that one cannot possible walk everywhere, we could build our essential life around a walk-able radius. Even mass transit options when coupled with walking or biking across is much lighter on the overall environmental damage.
Some cities with winning walk-scores provide a lively example.
The top five of my list are:
1. New York City, America
This isnt so surprising. With a population density of over 26ooo persons per square mile NYC is the best example there is to a city being walk-able. The city with a population of over 8 million garners a walk score of 87.6
Lessons to learn? Mass Transit subways, match-box style living, tree-lined avenues, footpaths and a walking population!
2. Florence, Italy
Though walkscore has not gone down to listing cities apart from the United States, Australia and Canada, I would vouch for this steeped in art city of Florence.
Lessons to learn? Banning the car on majority of their roads, cobble-stone streets, making sure cars are not allowed or if they are, they don’t fit! Blaring a horn in this city is calling for social suicide!
3. Paris, France
Though the French are not so judgmental on your choosing to drive, allowing one to drive close by the Louvre or the ton of other national monuments they simply make walking and taking the public transportation so very convenient and chic with beautifully wide sidewalks that are dramatic every time of the year making one a fool to not choose to walk.
Lessons to learn? Make walking convenient, walking as a way to stay chic, make the scenery pretty and tie the benefits of walking to life.
4. San Francisco
Great weather coupled with an easy attitude to life makes San Francisco great for walking about irrespective of the rolling hills that the city is built on. Having a tram to hop on anytime seals the deal!
Lesson to learn? Excellent public transit, great sites, large number of walking commuters, activity lined streets and moreover great weather helps! The city also boasts of the most number of parks and points of interest per square mile.
The best way to force people into walking? Make sure there is no place, absolutely no place for an automobile! And coming up with other rather strenuous ways to commute, making walking the easiest mode of transportation to get by, considering navigating the canals by boat could be a real challenge.
Lessons to learn? Now really make sure there is no place for the automobile! Considering a city as an island thereby fixing the radius extent could also help. In effect a city cannot be allowed to grow beyond a certain point.
Which city would inspire you to ditch the car and take a walk?
“God made us walking animals, pedestrians. As a fish needs to swim, a bird to fly, a deer to run, we need to walk, not in order to survive, but to be happy.”
– Enrique Peñalosa, former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia.