Walkable Winter Cities: Feasibility While Freezing

"It's too cold to walk here" is often the response to the subject of livability in northern climes. Hazel Borys hails from the third coldest city of its size on earth and talks walkable winter cities.

2 minute read

January 6, 2016, 9:00 AM PST

By Scott Doyon

Plymouth Avenue Bridge

Michael Hicks / Flickr

"Walkability mitigates the most extreme climates by providing interesting places to warm up, linger, and connect. And plenty of options about how and where to turn around and circle back."

Northern cities tend to go after big silver bullets for making their cities appealing in the winter, to compete with the Sun Belt. These bullets are generally set in the city center, and are regional draws to get people to drive somewhere and then spend time outside. However, the greatest parts of walkable winter cities aren’t about the headliners, but rather the openers. And those openers tend to be enabled in policy but not in legality.

"Legalizing the useful walk, outdoor rooms, short blocks, and play sheds are the first steps toward a walkable winter city, as well as allowing us to live in season year round. These urban forms are available only by negotiation and not by right for most of North America."

"While Canadian cities offer up so many great ideas about embracing winter, last week’s Maclean’s headlined, 'We’ve become a nation of winter wusses.' This extensive piece has many inescapable points about how Canadians avoid the outdoors in winter, where in the past we used to pride ourselves on being the land of ice and snow. I think this shift is due mainly to recent suburban growth patterns."

Carnival de Québec, Québec City, Québec. CreativeCommons ShareAlike License with Attribution: flickr user Jamie McCaffrey.

Carnival de Québec, Québec City, Québec. CreativeCommons ShareAlike License with Attribution: flickr user Jamie McCaffrey.

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