Beyond Greenways is a book on how town planners can create better city trails and walking routes, rather than always thinking of designing and planning towns from the view of car transport. People should be able to walk to their favourite restaurant or set out with a rucksack to the city edges for fresh air and nature. Despite the benefits of walking, many people don’t simply because there are no safe local places to walk. This book aims to change that. Removing barriers (dead-ends, motorway junctions, dangerous-to-cross roads) and replacing them with safe pavement, and accessible quality walkable places in urban areas is key.
In this book, the author makes the case for councils to create safe pleasant walkable trails for all. Paths should be wide enough for two people to stroll together, and stitch together urban and suburban areas (the Alabama town of Mt Laurel is so well-planned, you can walk from your home to the market, park and fire station).
Once you build walkable neighbourhoods, people start getting out of their cars and begin to walk. This also saves money (less potholes and lower NHS costs). Drawing inspiration from the US, the author lays out ways to plan and design walkable trails including short city walks from 2 to 6 miles. Examples include Denver’s Turquoise Trail (created by 2 people and leftover blue paint). Author Robert Searns has 40 years history of planning trails and greenway, and getting them built. He helped plan the Grand Canyon National Park Greenway, and founder of The World Trails Network. He lives in Colorado, USA.
Walkable communities are what we need! In the Alabama town of Mt Laurel, you can walk from your home through parks, walk to the farmers’ market, walk to the dog park and even walk to the local fire station. Walkable communities are built for people over cars.
Danish architect Jan Gehl was responsible for creating the most pedestrian-friendly city on earth. He transformed gridlocked Copenhagen into a walker’s paradise by making the main street car-free then gradually adding more car-free lanes, more bicycle rentals and heated lamps in streets, to make it entice walkers into the city centres, to make people feel safe. He says planners should design cities from eye-view of a walker, not a car. Walkable cities also make it safer for people, pets and wildlife and make for safer cities for vulnerable people too like women, the elderly and disabled.
A birthday book for your town planner is Walkable City Rules. This offers 101 simple changes from the world’s expert on how to make your town or city more walking-friendly. Grouped into 9 chapters, it covers how to get parking right, escaping car obsessions, and making spaces comfortable and interesting.