Berlin is the most pedestrian-friendly city in Germany

Berlin is the most pedestrian-friendly city in Germany

From a climate, health and cost standpoint, walking is one the best modes of transport. But, according to a new report, most of the world’s cities are still dominated by cars. And German cities are no exception. 

ITDP study ranks cities by pedestrian-friendliness

The new study, initiated by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) in New York, examines which cities in the world are a paradise for exploring on foot, and which are more like a nightmare. 

The study compiled a “walkability ranking” based on a range of factors, such as the average size of blocks in the city, residents’ proximity to car-free open spaces like parks or pedestrian zones, and their access to services including healthcare and education - factors which the study’s authors argue are now more important than ever, with the use of public transport having declined dramatically during the coronavirus crisis. 

Overall, however, they said that very few cities give pedestrians priorities and are instead much more geared up for driving

The world’s most walkable cities

According to the ranking, the cities of Paris, London, Bogota and Hong Kong are among the most walkable in the world. Overall, cities in the US ranked particularly low for walkability, while Bogotá in Colombia was the only metropolis to rank in the top five for all three categories. 

Hong Kong came out top when it came to proximity to car-free spaces, with 85 percent of the city’s residents living within 100 metres of a park or pedestrianised area, while Paris took the top spot when it came to access to education and health facilities. The study found that 85 percent of Parisians live within one kilometre of facilities like schools, universities, hospitals and GP surgeries. Paris was followed by Lima, London, Santiago de Chile and Bogotá. 

The third category was all about the average size of apartments and neighbourhood blocks, since smaller neighbourhoods allow pedestrians to get around more easily, without having to make detours. Karthum, the capital of the Republic of Sudan, came top in this category, followed by Bogotá, Lima, Karachi and Tokyo. 

Not a single German city made it into the top five of any of the study’s three categories. Overall, Berlin scored best on the proximity to facilities fronts: 77 percent of residents in the German capital live within one kilometre of both education and healthcare services, and 72 percent live within 100m of a street, park or plaza that is free of motorised vehicles.

Walkable cities are happy cities

ITDP researchers see a clear need for action when it comes to making cities more attractive to pedestrians. “Walkable cities don’t happen by accident,” said D. Taylor Reich, the report’s lead author. “Policymakers first have to understand the problems that car-oriented planning has caused. Then they can take specific steps: from planning dense, human-scale, mixed-use developments, to equipping streets with benches, wide sidewalks and shade.” 

Reich added that walkable neighbourhoods bring a number of benefits: healthier residents, fewer road fatalities, profitable local businesses, less social inequality and higher resilience to climate change impacts. Nearly 23.000 pedestrians around the world are expected to fall victim to road traffic deaths this year. 



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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