The most walkable cities in the world include London, Paris, Bogotá and Hong Kong, according to a report. The UK capital surpasses nearly 1,000 cities worldwide due to citizens’ proximity to car-free spaces, schools and healthcare, and overall travel shortness.
Researchers from the Institute for Transport and Development Policy (ITDP) said making cities walkable is key to improving health, reducing global warming transport emissions, and building stronger local communities and economies. However, they said very few cities overall prioritized pedestrians and were dominated by cars. The report found that cities in the United States ranked particularly low for walkability due to sprawling urban sprawl.
Among cities with more than 5 million inhabitants, only Bogotá in Colombia was in the top five for all three measures. The first measure assessed the percentage of people living within 1
The second measure looked at the percentage of people who lived within one kilometer of both health care and education. In Paris, 85% of people lived within this distance, taking first place, followed by Lima in Peru, London, Santiago in Chile and Bogotá.
The average block size was the third measure, as smaller blocks make it easier for people to walk directly to their destinations without detours around large buildings. Here, Khartoum in Sudan scored the highest, followed by Bogotá, Lima, Karachi in Pakistan and Tokyo in Japan.
The report includes evidence that places to walk are easier and safer have less air pollution, less obesity, more time for children, fewer deaths on the road and better local businesses, as well as reduced inequality. It notes that nearly 230,000 pedestrians worldwide are expected to be killed in traffic accidents this year.
“To provide safe and inviting driving conditions, it is essential to shift the balance of space in our cities away from cars,” said Heather Thompson, head of ITDP, based in New York. The IDTP said the need was particularly urgent as the coronavirus pandemic was driving people away from walking and public transport and into private cars.
“The streets of our cities around the planet are already full of cars,” said Taylor Reich, an ITDP researcher. “If you really want to see the worst in walkability, it’s the really sprawling cities in the United States. They might have some great sidewalks, but everything is so far away that it’s virtually impossible to walk to the supermarket or school. “
Indianapolis was the lowest-scoring city in the United States, with only 4% of people close to education and health care and 9% near a pedestrian area. Reich said policymakers around the world needed to plan dense mixes of homes, shops and businesses and equip the streets with benches, wide sidewalks and shadows.
Other cities that score high for proximity to car-free spaces include Berlin and Barcelona in Europe, Melbourne and Sydney in Australia, while Washington DC is ranked 25th in the world. In proximity to healthcare and schools, Kathmandu in Nepal and Athens in Greece are both high, while Toronto in Canada is ranked 35th and New York City in 50th.
The report cites examples of developments that have made cities more walkable, such as in Pune, India, where a road redesign prioritized pedestrians and cyclists by building wide sidewalks and creating areas for children to play and vendors from. to sell. In Bogota, at the turn of the century, there was a concerted effort to create a city “with more public space for children than for motor vehicles”, focusing on buses, bicycles and walks.
Alexandra Gomes, of the city center of the London School of Economic, praised the report and said: “Walking is fundamental for liveable cities and a fundamental right for every inhabitant of the city. However, for a long time, walkability was a rethinking of planning in many parts of the world. In cities like London, although it definitely needs improvement, the infrastructure exists; however, in other areas of the world the catwalks do not exist or are almost completely occupied by cars “.
“Millions of people have rediscovered the joys of walking and want to walk safely, but the pandemic has shown that too many of our streets are not fit for purpose,” said Mary Creagh, of the British charity Living Streets. “The new data tools from the ITDP show how to build more walkable cities, to tackle the double epidemics of obesity and loneliness and create a cleaner future for pedestrians and our planet.”
“People will use the infrastructure that you offer them and since we have built cities for cars, everyone wants to get around,” Reich said. “But if we were to start building cities that people can enter, people will change their behavior and live longer and happier lives.”