Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 7th 2014 Contents bling impulse these days.
Having read the quotations, my
thoughts shifted to a discussion I had
with a young UWI Masters of Urban
Planning candidate concerning her cho-
sen thesis topic "Walkability in San
Hitherto, walkability (loosely defined
as how friendly or accommodating an
area is to walking) as a planning term
had evaded me but right away I could
identify with it as I felt a rising tide of
trepidation come in as I pictured myself
walking aimlessly for an hour across
San Fernando or even around my more
What trouble would be waiting there
for me? What about conditions under-
foot and pedestrian/vehicle conflicts?
I thought if the poui trees were in bloom
a perambulation entailing a lap of the
Queen s Park Savannah and St Clair
North would be emotionally spot-on.
But where else around town would one
be comfortable walking?
What if there was an integrated sys-
tem of routes connecting hills, parks,
the waterfront and urban areas with
service/rest-spots along the way?
On a wider scale, I thought we as a
society may need some changes to
comfort us in setting out in search of
the joys and benefits of aimless or even
purposeful walking. Then I recalled
reading an interesting piece in 2006
entitled, "The Mayor who Wowed the
World Urban Forum: Bogota s Enrique
Pelosa s War on Cars".
The article reported that the city s
residents and the world had given up
on Bogota, which had lost itself in
slums, chaos, traffic and violence but
somehow Mayor Pelosa turned things
around during his three-year term.
He declared war on private cars and
initiated an annual car-free day, installed
a bus-highway transit system, and
built/reconstructed hundreds of kilo-
metres of bicycle paths, pedestrian
streets and more than 1,200 parks.
Any doubts I had about the good
mayor s achievements were tempered
by coincidence and credible proof in
2008 when I received an e-mail from
some friends, a Trinidadian couple,
who were writing home after taking up
a posting in Bogota.
It read: "...but Colombia is very inter-
esting and Bogota even more so. I am
amazed at how green it is, there are
parks everywhere and people walk a
lot here, which is a refreshing change".
The joy of walking and walkability s
role in urban planning hit home.
Planners and citizens must remember
that walking is our oldest and most
basic form of transportation. Attention
needs to be paid to pedestrian planning
and design in our communities.
Walking is such a simple and inex-
pensive way to get around whether
going about our daily business or as
part of a regular fitness regimen.
Mayor Pelosa saw that for people to
be happy they needed to walk and that
they needed to interact, and to have
beauty and nature around them. Walk-
ing takes us away from the people we
become behind the wheel of our vehi-
cles and reduces us to a common equal-
ity. No road rage here. An added bonus
is that incorporating walkability con-
cepts in our land use plans will help
us build healthier communities.
Adopting walkability concepts can
also take us away from urban sprawl
and dependency on the automobile, for
example by promoting residential den-
Walkability zones support the inte-
gration of able bodied pedestrians, per-
sons with disabilities and cyclists. Pro-
moting walking also helps increase
social capital through more social inter-
action. The more walking can be
encouraged is the more short vehicular
trips (with attendant congestion) that
can be eliminated.
Creating walkability zones means
people can save money on motor vehicle
operating costs, and these priority zones
can stimulate foot traffic business espe-
cially when these zones are linked to
nearby medium/high density neigh-
Pedestrian planning integrated with
public transport systems has become
increasingly more important in modern
urban and transportation planning prac-
Submitted by a member of the
T&T Society of Planners
Browsing the Inter-
net recently I
references to three
essays on the joys
That the authors were well
known increased my inquisitive-
ness. The articles included Virginia
Woolf (Street Haunting, A London
Adventure), Charles Dickens (Night
Walks) and Henry David Theoreau
Each reference was accompanied
by a quotation giving an insight
on what prompted the writer to
take a walk.
Woolf, for example, set out to
buy a pencil "as an excuse to
indulge safely in the greatest pleas-
ure of town life in winter; rambling
the streets of London."
How wonderful it seemed. Not
a care or a fear in the world. Just
head out and walk. I wonder how
many of our citizens get this ram-
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Creating walkability zones
Promoting walking also helps increase social
capital through more social interaction. The
more walking can be encouraged is the more
short vehicular trips (with attendant
congestion) that can be eliminated.
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