Can Detroiters Get Healthier With Better Walkability?

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.

Image credit: Russ

This post is a part of WDET's Parks Project.

All summer long in 2015, WDET reported on how parks are impacting Detroiters and how Detroiters impacted the parks.

We asked you to be a part of this work by being the eyes and ears of your local parks. We asked you to help us find out what is going on in the parks in your city and your neighborhood. Were parks being maintained? Who were using the park, and what was happening there? Is it safe?

Detroit Park Watch is produced by WDET 101.9 FM and is powered by the Detroit Journalism Cooperative. Support for this project ccomes from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Renaissance Journalism’s Michigan Reporting Initiative and the Ford Foundation.



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