The Many Benefits of Wandering Through Cities on Foot

Forget the countryside. Urban walking helps people understand their cities while at the same time encouraging urban landscapes where people actually want to walk.
August 26, 2018, 11am PDT | Camille Fink
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Gary J. Wood / flickr
Gary J. Wood

An essay by Jonn Elledge explores the many joys of urban walking and how a better understanding of urban environments is mutually beneficial to cities and the people living in them. Elledge is a fan of the long, meandering walk – what he says is a British pastime and an opportunity to exercise, unplug, and unwind. However, rural areas, with a focus on fresh air and open space, have often been touted as the places for the best walks. Elledge argues instead that cities have much to offer people walking through them:

There’s only so much you can learn from behind the wheel of a car or the window of a train, zooming past things before you even notice them, and anyway, in those vehicles, you need a destination. On foot, though, you can wander: serendipity kicks in, and you find things you never even knew you were looking for. 

In addition, walkable cities are just more interesting cities. “A street with heavy footfall is a street that’s likely to attract the bars and cafes and other things that make a city worth living in, in exactly the way a dual carriageway won’t,” says Elledge. As more people move to urban areas around the world, he believes the insight gained through urban walking can ultimately help us solve many of the challenges cities face today and will contend with in the future.

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Published on Tuesday, August 21, 2018 in The Guardian
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