Tuesday 21 May 2024

“A city which invests in pedestrians is a healthier city”

The network of CITIES THAT WALK was born 5 years ago to bring together all the municipalities and administrations which have invested in developing a better system for pedestrians in cities. Nowadays, Over 20 city halls are part of this little network in Spain and Portugal. The city of Pontevedra is in charge of the networks presidency. Pablo Barco (Seville, 1979), is its technical coordinator. This activist, with a degree in History and technical research in sustainable mobility, has worked for ages to stand up for the rights of pedestrians in city urban centers.

-Whats the project behind CITIES THAT WALK?


-Our strategy is based on 3 focal points: to improve road safety, to foster universal accessibility and to raise awareness about the environment. CITIES THAT WALK was born to the union of the public administrations and citizens movements, which supported the idea of sustainable mobility in order to work towards a common goal within this scope.

-Whats the present trend? ¿Are people willing to support sustainable mobility or are they still resilient?

Its obvious that people show some resilience. You can tell when they want to pass a bill, like  30km/h speed limit in some city areas. We have made such proposals in certain municipalities, but few are willing to go for it. And besides cars are not affected by this sort of speed limit in the city. However, city halls around Spain are resilient.

Regarding road safety, road accidents and deaths go down

-Can all cities be just cities to walk about?

-Yes! Sure! They can. However, the issue here is that when you talk about making roads into pedestrian areas, theres some misconceptions and ignorance about it. People believe pedestrian areas must be pedestrian zones only. But there are some nuances to this, you can take action in a way that pedestrians can take advantage of this situation: make roads narrower, have bumps on pedestrian crossings, etc. Alternatively, we have to carry out this process way so different either if they are big cities or if they are small cities. In big cities, for instance, we must consider the public transport to avoid long distances without using a private vehicle.

-How much better is a city built for pedestrians?

-A city that invests in a pedestrian is a healthier city, as much mentally as physically speaking. Children are respected, they have more freedom of movement, and can surely enjoy from public open areas, as well as elderly and disabled or physically challenged people.  Regarding road safety, road accidents and deaths go down. And there are other reasons as Jane Jacobs would say, the mother of sustainable urbanism is that mobility enhances communication among the inhabitants of the city and,thus, develops a better collective intelligence.


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