‘It literally feels illegal to walk’

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Once you’ve experienced a walkable city, it can be shocking when trying to transition back to an area that doesn’t cater to pedestrians quite so much. 

That’s exactly what one TikToker demonstrated after leaving a walkable campus and returning to the Midwest.

Midwest Mess (@tangtown) wanted to see if she could reduce her car dependence while living in the area and filmed herself trying to make a walkable journey of under two miles. She soon discovered that going on foot was far more difficult than it needed to be.

@tangtown walking in an unwalkable city 🚷 though i am privledged enough to have a car, i wanted to challenge the car dependence i have with living in my area. what do you think about walkable vs. unwalkabke communities ? #walkablecities #walkablecommunities #cardependency #midwest #america #unwalkable ♬ original sound – midwest mess

With no sidewalks or shoulder, Hayley was forced to walk between a grass verge and a busy road, with cars doing speeds of around 40 miles per hour within inches of her. With ditches on either side of some parts of the road, too, she found it treacherous to move further away from the thoroughfare, and there was also the concern of stepping on other people’s property. 

Hayley describes trying to make the short walk as “very stressful, anxiety-inducing, and kind of humiliating” saying that she felt like she was “not supposed to be there.” 

To encourage more people to walk and reduce the planet-warming pollution produced by short trips in cars, appropriate infrastructure is necessary to keep pedestrians safe.

“While this community has been very rural for some time, it is quickly becoming more urban with a lot more residential areas, and I think some sidewalks could be greatly needed in the near future,” the OP says.

She also notes the abundance of trash by the side of the road, which she hadn’t noticed before when driving her car. She also has to cross an unguarded train track, adding an extra layer of peril to an already difficult walk. 

As she alludes to, walkable cities provide a number of benefits for residents, including greater opportunities to exercise, increased safety for pedestrians, and a greater community feel. 

Furthermore, without an abundance of polluting cars being necessary to go from place to place, air quality is much improved, reducing the risk of respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses for locals.

In Pontevedra in Spain, for example, most cars were banned in 1999. As of 2022, no car-related deaths had been reported in the area, and air pollution saw a 67% reduction. 

More walkable cities are in the works, with an old airport site in Berlin, Germany, being transformed into a green center for business and living, and a similar project set for Toronto, Canada, will deliver a 15-minute city.  

“It literally feels illegal to walk [in] unwalkable places,” one commenter said. 

Another added, “I’m so happy our generation is realizing how amazing walkable [cities] are. The next generation of builders are gonna be great.”

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