I have spent the past few weeks studying what makes a city sustainable and pedestrian friendly. Freiburg, Germany, the city in which I have been studying, is an excellent example of a city designed with pedestrians in mind. Many streets are one way, to accommodate walkers and bicyclists, sidewalks are large, and the main square now hosts a daily farmers market where there used to be a parking lot. One key component of a sustainable city is the ability for people to either walk or bike to their destination, reducing car emissions and promoting a healthier lifestyle.
I visited Amsterdam this past weekend, the bike capital of the world. In addition to the excess of bicyclists, the main downtown area is almost exclusively pedestrian walkways. Too many times we were walking along, only to realize that we were in the middle of the street, and yes in fact cars do drive here, although only periodically. The ease of such a walkable city not only improves the tourist experience, but also encourages a healthy, active lifestyle for those that live there. Walking is also an incredible way to get to know a new city! If we all walk, rather than drive, just a little bit more often, it can greatly decrease the amount of emissions that enter our atmosphere. Plus, it’s always nice to get a little fresh air!