If a city were designed for walking, you could leave your home and stroll down the block to the enticing aroma of fresh pastries. Then, after a quick stop at the corner bakery, you might walk past a community park and into the office where you work.

Street signs in the city

A neighborhood like this would make it easier to live without cars, help break our dependence on fossil fuels, and reduce global warming pollution. But many modern U.S. cities are not designed for walking.

Rakha: “If there’s nothing to do there – which means there is not a good mix of uses, and people don’t live where they work and play – you can claim all you want that people will walk to be healthy. But they will not walk, because there’s nothing to do there.”

Tarek Rakha
Tarek Rakha

That’s Tarek Rakha of Syracuse University. He says in addition to having someplace to walk to, it’s important to make people more comfortable outdoors.

Planting trees, or providing shelters so pedestrians can take a break and warm up or cool off, depending on the weather, can encourage people to hit the streets.

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For example, someone might choose to walk instead of drive if a tree-lined street provides shade on a hot summer day.

So by designing cities that promote walking, city planners can help make our neighborhoods and the earth more livable.

Reporting credit: Andrew Lapin/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Street signs photo: Copyright protected.

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Tarek Rakha


Bridgett Ennis

Bridgett Ennis is co-founder of ChavoBart Digital Media, an audio and video production firm with a focus on scientific and environmental media. ChavoBart Digital Media contributes original reporting, audio...