Read my short review on the wonderful project “Metropolitan Trails”.
Topic and relevance
The approach of metropolitan trails is highly relevant as it considers paths / trails as important infrastructure in metropolitan regions. The trails shown on https://metropolitantrails.org/en/trails lead through areas that are usually not seen as terrain for walking, wandering or any sort of walking appropriation. Through promoting access, they are a strategic contribution to a sustainable, liveable metropolis.
Process and community
The fact, that creating the trails addresses different groups of people such as authorities, project leaders and inhabitants sets the spotlight on the process of creation. Instead of promoting a top-down design (as it is common when designing “premium” hiking-trails in Germany as an example) it supports co-creative processes with the communities along the trails. This distinguishes this project from other trail-making procedures.
It still needs to be tested and evaluated how the communities along and on the trails are linked with the international (European) community of trail-makers created by Metropolitantrails.org.
Outcomes and impact
There are clearly visible benefits both for everyday life of citizens and for the professional realm of mobility and spatial planning. The created trails may be used for everyday practises such as walking to school or cycling to work. And they often provide missing links in the network of walking paths in the metropolis and thus are means of improving the infrastructure of public spaces.
The lessons https://metropolitantrails.org/en/academy aim at combining the physical space (route, trail) and socially constructed space (stories, narratives). This is highly important in the context of resilient planning of the metropolis as it fosters a transformative way of planning and governance.
The lessons are hands-on and philosophical at the same time and thus “talk” to different groups of people. They give advice for those who want to try things out and for those who aim at a complex understanding of the role trail-making plays in metropolitan areas.
The project metropolitan trails inspired me to use the provided material in teaching and to create European summer schools with the topic of trail-making.