More walkable, more bike friendly and more equitable spaces
After a year where many of us have been cooped up inside, it is no wonder that many people are keen to walk or bike or hike instead. Institutions, brands and governments are looking at the benefits of making spaces better equipped for these purposes, for all citizens.
A global report from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy has ranked the world's most walkable cities. This report finds that a cities walkability is so important as it is often linked to cleaner air, stronger local economies and deeper community bonds. Hong Kong came out on top for walkability while Melbourne and Sydney (alongside cities like Berlin and Barcelona) scored highly for "closeness to car-free spaces". Other benefits to cities where walking is easier and safe include fewer road deaths, increased children's playtime, less obesity and reduced inequality.
As the pandemic pushes people out of enclosed cars and public transport we have also seen a global boom in bike sales and plans to continue to improve bike arterials locally. Back in July Melbourne announced an additional 40km of bike lanes to be constructed around the CBD. This follows a huge increase in demand for bicycles after the bike industry sold around 6 to 7 months worth of stock in a 6 to 7 week period as the pandemic hit fully in April/May. A recent piece by Monash Uni has looked at how we need to rethink bicycle design if we wish to have a true culture of bikes as transport though "Few people actively engage in competitive “cycling”, yet this sporty image trickles down in bike design – from elite machines to cheaper simulations of them. These are the bicycles most people ride".
Not all outdoor spaces are created equal it seems however. Due to a finding that people of colour are more likely to live in nature-deprived locations (or 'the nature gap') The North Face has pledged $7million USD to helping diversify the outdoors through 'The Explore Fund Council'. The program was launched in partnership with screenwriter, producer and actor Lena Waithe who made the following statement: “I want to help give people access and amplify those that do occupy the space... this world belongs to all of us — and the sooner the powers that be realise that the better". Now more than ever people are realising the sanctuary of nature, The North Face (the world's largest outdoors brand) has however been working towards this same goal for the last decade.