By Michael Rothenborg
Toronto, Sydney, Auckland, Birmingham. More and more big cities are walking the talk and adopting walking strategies. Institutions like the London School of Economics are recommending that cities create “a better pedestrian flow”. Some experts even say the era of the car-dominated city is coming to a close.
Walking strategies seem to be the next big step towards creating more liveable cities. The main advantages include less congestion, lower CO2 emissions and better health.
The French city of Lyon is a particular case in point. In the past decade the city has reduced the number of cars within its perimeters by 20% – while its population has grown. Deputy Mayor of Lyon Gilles Vesco sums it up this way: “The goal is to rebalance the public space and create a city for people – a city with less pollution, less noise, less stress – a more walkable city.”
Like other progressive politicians, planners and experts, Gilles Vesco now speaks explicitly about the possibilities of a car-free inner city. Caroline Shaw, Public Health Physician from the University of Otago Wellington in New Zealand, also believes that “car-free inner cities should be part of any policy plan.”
“In New Zealand, both cycling and walking have been neglected in recent decades. We are now investing in cycling, which is long overdue, but we need to ensure the focus does not come off walking,” she says.