Expert Gil Penalosa on how walkability affects people's lives in Detroit.

Stephen Henderson talks with Gil Penalosa, Executive Director of 8-80 Cities, a Toronto-based organization that advocates for healthier public spaces.  They talk about making Detroit more walkable and bikeable, and what changes like this could mean for residents and the city.   

  • Importance of walking:  Penalosa says that every journey, whether it is by car or public transportation, begins and ends with walking.  He says that Detroit is not walkable currently, but people are very eager at the idea of improved transportation and mobility. 
  • Urban ecology:  Penalosa says that walking is how people meet each other, engage their senses, and engage in their neighborhoods.  He says that it is about more than mobility, but is also an issue of economic vibrancy, the environment, and recreation and tourism. 
  • Ten minute radius: Penalosa says that he believes walkability includes that a person’s basic needs should be available within a ten minute distance of their home.  Stephen says that this reaches issues far beyond infrastructure and infrastructure, to how we place retail, medical services, and other necessities. 
  • Cities competing: Penalosa says that Detroit has to compete with other cities for the “best people”, so it must provide a good environment.  He says that the “best people” covers a diverse range, and that Detroit must be livable for families and older people, not just people in their 30’s.   He believes that simple changes, like making Detroit intersections safer for pedestrians, can make a difference. 

Click the audio link above to hear the full conversation.