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Keep Us On Our Feet

Walking cities are vibrant cities. And, to many of us, the reverse rings true also - having to get in your car or even motorcycle disconnects you from your fellow citizens. We crave human-to-human interaction - it's how we're wired - so let's make a concerted effort to keep us on our feet by maintaining and re-building pedestrian friendly cities.

Photo of Rob Katz
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The English word "city" is derived from the Latin "civitas" - citizen.  In short: a city is only as good as its people, and a vibrant city is only as vibrant as its people.  Keep Us On Our Feet is an effort to make and keep our cities walkable.  The more time we spend in cars and motorcycles, the more disconnected we are from each other.  Walking is positively correlated to better physical and mental health.  Some of the most desirable places to live are also some of the most walkable cities.  People are the drivers of economic growth, as both consumers and producers, so let's get and keep them there. 

What resources (money, time, people, technology, etc) will your concept need to be successful?

To be successful, Keep Us On Our Feet needs collaborators, urban planners, transportation engineers and active citizens (there's that word again) in the focus cities. At this stage, it needs the OpenIDEO community to help me source the best examples of cities where walking has reclaimed (or maintained) its primacy as a driver of social and economic well being. New York, San Francisco, Boston, London, Tokyo...where else? What makes these cities walkable? What about their walkability is driving economic growth?

How can your idea be scaled so that it's implemented in cities around the world?

One step at a time...pun intended. The cities where Keep Us On Our Feet will make the most difference are, ironically, some of the most vibrant - Delhi, Mumbai, Nairobi, Accra, Lagos. These developing world megacities are growing and, in many cases, are already economic powerhouses. But they are among the least walkable, least livable places. Beyond the obvious - infrastructure investments, public transport - what do we need to do to encourage walking and maintain that vibrancy as these cities grow and mature?

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Photo of Arjan Tupan

Great concept, and wonderful discussion in the comments. I really like to see an addition of bicycles in here. Somehow that feels as a natural extension. I guess it has to do with distances. It's not only about having parks and good walking/cycling infrastructure, but also whether you can reach your place of work or the services you're looking for in a reasonable time. Your reach on foot is a bit smaller than one by bike.

Photo of Rob Katz

Arjun, absolutely right. What's the best biking city in the world? Is it also a strong walking city? I bet they're related. Anyone want to chime in?

Photo of Sarah Fathallah

I agree with Arjan on the biking idea. I know it might not be technically a "city" (although it is), but the Stanford campus in California is a great example of this. Each time I visit I just feel like leaving the car behind and walking/biking around. But maybe it's also due to the fact that the weather is so nice... In Paris, I don't necessarily feel like walking/biking during the Winter, it's just too cold.

Photo of Brad Gill

Speaking of college campuses, I think a basic study of the interaction that takes place there can lend some neat insights. I know of at least one university that has started a "Drive or Walk" initiative to reduce traffic issues and increase its social spirit (http://www.byui.edu/driveorwalk/).

Photo of Johan Löfström

weather is one factor, also altitude. Flat cities great cycling at most distances. Lots of staircases/bridges, little bit better for walking, but makes it a bit harder to carry home groceries up steep hills.

If businesses are spread out around all residential areas, then good for everyone. If all shops are in shopping malls : most people still need cars

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