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Josef Hargrave

Global foresight manager

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Cities Alive: Towards a Walking World

Cities Alive: Towards a Walking World

Josef Hargrave
Global Foresight Leader
+44 (0) 20 7636 1531

A human approach to the design of our cities

Mobility is intrinsic to the quality of life experienced in cities. But for the past century, the car has dominated how we plan and grow our urban areas. We must now seize the opportunity to place people back at the heart of our cities and drive a human focused approach to the design of the built environment.

With a growing desire to create more liveable streets, a light needs to be shone upon the benefits of walking as a catalyst for developing sustainable, healthy, prosperous and attractive cities. From 70 years of practice, Arup recognises that a walkable city is a better city and that the more we walk, the better the city in every respect.

Cities Alive: Towards a walking world highlights the significant social, economic, environmental and political benefits of walking. Informed by specialist insight and multidisciplinary expertise from across our global offices, we highlight 50 benefits of walking explored through 16 distinct indicative themes, and list 40 actions that city leaders can consider to inform walking policy, strategy and design. These are informed by a catalogue of 80 international case studies that will inspire action, and further aid cities in identifying and evaluating opportunities.

The built environment needs to encourage healthier choices and we need to design physical activity back into our everyday lives by incentivising and facilitating walking as daily mode of transport. In addition to the host of health benefits, walking presents many economic benefits for developers, employers and retailers. It is the lowest carbon, least polluting, cheapest and most reliable form of transport. It is a great social leveller and having people walking through urban spaces improves safety through community attentiveness. Best of all, it makes people happier.

This report, Cities Alive: Towards a Walking World, shines a light on walking, which is all too often taken for granted. It investigates the role walkability plays in developing more liveable, sustainable, healthy, safe and attractive cities.

Walkability is a word that did not exist just 20 years ago. We made walking so unnatural that we had to invent a word to describe what we were missing.

Dan Burden
Director of Innovation and Inspiration at Blue Zones