“How to make cities better places for pedestrians?” – most of the discussions centered on this question. There was research on pedestrian safety, ideas for campaigns to promote walking and manuals of how to improve conditions for walkers. Prof. Merk presented designs for the inner city that will make Munich a better place to walk. Prof. Thanos Vlastos pointed out, that walking is the way to incorporate with the social life and to participate. Many other experts from different backgrounds presented data and ideas for walkers.
My feeling is that everybody tries very hard to make plans, to draw up agendas and to implement goals in strategic planning and decision making processes. Fair enough – all very important points. But why do only few of these passionate lobbyists use walking as a method to perceive and change the world? Every walker knows the “wonder” of walking: While moving and connecting views, perspectives, feelings and places, he or she gets new perspectives, sees things from different angles or in a different light. The scenery becomes a spectacle in which the permanently moving walker plays a role. Especially on longer walks phases of flow helps us to open up for new ideas. And who does not like a good talk on a long walk?
Walking is an act of movement, perception and creativity and deeply rooted in our history. Now we fight for better walking environments but we forget to experiment with walking again and to let the creative potential unfold. Walking together is the best way to exchange perceptions and to discuss ideas for the future of our cities.
One of the presenters I listen to demonstrated the power of walking with people. Dimitra Kanellopoulou walks with people, talks with them, draws maps and invents stories. A very inspiriting research!