Enough with bikes! What about walking?

There has been greater commitment toward making travel patterns more sustainable and car-free using strategies, policies and encouraging innovative projects. In Europe, the Netherlands is probably leading the way in terms of cycling with its floating Hovenring roundabout (built last year) which offers a dedicated futuristic roundabout for cyclists that improves safety and efficiency.

Their French counterparts are not short on ideas either, in fact the Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Energy Development is currently testing and monitoring a new scheme based on tax-free payments for employees who cycle to work! That’s a pretty compelling reason for donning the lycra on these cold mornings.

Meanwhile Melbourne’s latest metropolitan strategy, Plan Melbourne, aims at delivering a compact city aka the ‘20 minutes city’ to encourage a mode shift to walking, cycling or public transport use. Among these active transport modes, cycling has attracted a lot of attention however ABS data reveal that this transport mode is strongly male dominated across all states capital cities. On the other hand, walking has been left behind with data showing a decline despite the increasing number of people living in the CBD and in the renewed inner city areas (Mees, 2009). So why does walking get the cold shoulder when it is readily accessible to a wider population, in comparison with cycling, while retaining the same benefits (zero greenhouse emissions, improved health etc.)?

The good news is that Melbourne seems to be heading in the right direction by acknowledging the importance of walking in its recently released draft Walking Plan. Refining our public transport and facilitating cycling is not enough. Walking plays an important part in connecting people and places, thus the need for actions and concrete measures to encourage walking and further develop a walking network in the central city and the inner suburbs.

Credit: danielbowen.com
Melbourne’s CBD overflows with examples of cramped crosswalks and pedestrian footpath such as the one just across from Southern Cross Station.

Credit: Draft Walking Plan
Elsewhere, the problem is the same, how do we remove physical barriers and constraints that impede walking?


Popular Posts