Being free to move around and get out and about helps build and strengthen connections to place and people. Mobility and participation are closely linked and together they improve our sense of wellbeing and belonging. It’s about having choice and control and being able to easily go walking and wheeling in the neighbourhood.
Absent or poorly maintained footpaths, lack of safe crossings, unsafe road speeds, competing with cars, poorly lit streets, and nowhere to rest, prevent people from getting out and about.
An article in The Fifth Estate argues it’s time to stop designing our streets for cars and start to design for the diversity of people. The article is by Lisa Stafford and her work on planning and justice. She lists some must-dos for walkable wheelable neighbourhoods:
- footpaths are essential infrastructure in the same way as stormwater in neighbourhood development
- confront ableism and plan and design for our diversity
- embed inclusive design thinking in the system and day-to-day practice
- integrate planning well: we know universal design and sustainable smart growth approaches work seamlessly together
- utilise inclusive urban design codes to promote mobility equity, wellbeing, connectivity, and accessibility
- active and public transport infrastructure advocacy must include the perspective of all users
- Queensland Walks and Victoria Walks are good examples of public policy.
As Lisa Stafford says, we have the technical resources, good examples and the skills to do this. It is attitude that is holding us back.
The title of the article is What do truly walkable, wheelable neighbourhoods look like? It is part of The Fifth Estate’s Spinifex collection.