Among cities of more than 5 million inhabitants, only Bogotá, Colombia, was in the top five for all three measures. The first measure assessed the proportion of people living within 100 m of a place without a car, such as parks, pedestrian streets and squares. These improve health, strengthen community connections and increase pedestrian safety, the researchers said. Hong Kong took first place with 85% within 100m, with Moscow, Paris and London completing the top five.
The second measure looked at the proportion of people living within one kilometer of health care and education. In Paris, 85% of people lived this distance, which gave it the number one spot, followed by Lima in Peru, London, Santiago in Chile and Bogotá.
Average block size was the third metric, as smaller blocks allow people to walk directly to their destination without detouring around tall buildings. Here, Khartoum in Sudan got the best score, followed by Bogotá, Lima, Karachi in Pakistan and Tokyo in Japan.
Report includes evidence that places where it is easier and safer to walk have lower air pollution, less obesity, more play time for children, fewer road and business deaths more efficient local communities, as well as a reduction in inequalities. He notes that nearly 230,000 pedestrians around the world are expected to be killed in traffic accidents this year.
“In order to provide safe and inviting walking conditions, it is essential to shift the balance of space in our cities away from cars,” said Heather Thompson, director of New York-based ITDP. The IDTP said the need was particularly urgent as the coronavirus pandemic took people away from walking and public transportation to drive them in private cars.
“The streets of our cities across the planet are already full of cars,” said Taylor Reich, researcher at ITDP. “If you really want to see the worst for the walk, these are the truly sprawling cities of the United States. They may have great sidewalks, but everything is so far away that it is virtually impossible to walk to the grocery store or school.
Indianapolis was the lowest ranked city in the United States, with just 4% of people close to education and health care and 9% near a car-free zone. Reich said policymakers around the world need to plan dense mixes of housing, shops and businesses and equip streets with benches, wide sidewalks and shade.
Other cities that score well for proximity to car-free spaces include Berlin and Barcelona in Europe, Melbourne and Sydney in Australia, while Washington DC is ranked 25th in the world. For proximity to health care and schools, Kathmandu in Nepal and Athens in Greece are both high, while Toronto in Canada is ranked at 35 and New York at 50.
The report cites examples of developments that have made cities more accessible on foot, such as in Pune, India, where a road redesign has prioritized pedestrians and cyclists by building wide sidewalks and creating game for children and vendors for sale. In Bogotá, a concerted effort took place at the turn of the century to create a city “with more public space for children than for motor vehicles”, with an emphasis on buses, cycling and walking.
Alexandra Gomes, from the London School of Economic Economic Cities Center, welcomed the report and said: “Walking is crucial for liveable cities and a fundamental right for every city dweller. However, for a long time, walking was an afterthought in many parts of the world. In cities like London, although it certainly needs improvement, the infrastructure does exist; however, in other parts of the world bridges do not exist or are almost entirely occupied by cars. ”
“Millions of people have rediscovered the joys of walking and want to walk safely, but the pandemic has shown that too many of our streets are not suitable for their purpose,” said Mary Creagh, of the UK charity Living Streets. “ITDP’s new data tools show how to build cities that are more walkable, tackle the dual epidemic of obesity and loneliness, and create a cleaner future for pedestrians and our planet.”
“People will use the infrastructure that you give them and because we have built cities for cars, everyone wants to move,” Reich said. “But if we were to start building cities for people to enter, people will change their behavior and live longer and happier lives.”