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This article is from the In-Depth Report Urban Visions: The Future of Cities
60-Second Science

Encourage Walking with Urban Planning

People take cars for walkable trips in part because such trips are boring and unattractive. Better design of the urban environment could create more pedestrians. Karen Hopkin reports

Most of us don’t think twice about getting behind the wheel even for short hops to pick up some milk. And that’s not just because cars are convenient, or because we’re lazy. According to Andrew Furman of Ryerson University in Toronto [http://bit.ly/dr76ot], it’s because in many places in North America it’s just not that nice to walk. But if cities and suburbs put more effort into building better pedestrian routes, he says more people might leave their SUVs at home.

With its older cities, Europe is more amenable to meandering. Think cobblestone streets and hidden gardens. But North American cities and suburbs are more modern and car-centric, which generally forces pedestrians and cyclists to always take the same, boring path from A to B. But what if you could take a detour through a lobby that exhibits art, or down a lane that borders a green space? Furman thinks you’d be more likely to hoof it, which would be good for you and the environment.

Take New York City’s High Line, an abandoned railroad that’s been converted into a public park. Since its opening a year ago, this elevated walkway has people strolling through the meatpacking district. Even for folks who like to walk, that’s quite a feat.

—Karen Hopkin

[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]

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