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Updated: Jan 19

According to Jeff Speck, the obvious answer is to provide the sort of environment that the citizens want. One of them is actually by reviving back the street life, the pedestrian culture that can only come from walking. Bringing back the walking generation to the urban lifestyle will not only create positive impact for the environment but also health, well-being and the economy.

What characterizes the discussion on cities these days is not wrongheadedness or a lack of awareness about what needs to be done, but rather a complete disconnect between that awareness and the actions of those responsible for the physical form of our communities. This is not bad planning but more of the absence of planning, or rather the decision-making being  disconnected from the planning.

The concept of urban ‘walkability’ has come to occupy a key role of a series of multidisciplinary fields connecting urban design and planning to broader issues of public health, climate change, economic productivity and social equity. Yet the concept of ‘walkability’ itself still remains elusive – difficult to define or operationalise. But it is not impossible, we see major cities around the world successfully adapt and adopt this lifestyle through serious planning, commitment and change.

To achieve walkable cities in Indonesia it will be necessary to assess current walkability conditions, revise standards and regulations, research walking behaviour in varied settings, promote public education and participation in pedestrian planning, and encourage collaboration and interdisciplinary education between transportation engineers and the design professions. The following criteria can be adopted to design a successful pedestrian network: (1) connectivity; (2) linkage with other modes; (3) fine grained land use patterns; (4) safety; (5) quality of paths; and (6) regulations. This may be a start to get city leaders and planners started to make the communities more hospitable to walkers.

Or we can simply copy urban planners from major cities around the world that have been rethinking how walkability should play a fundamental role. Cities like Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Zurich and Hamburg are all walking towards a future in which their streets have more people and fewer cars. Here’s how these five cities have been working to encourage travel by foot and improve the daily lives of urban residents.

Amsterdams, Netherlands

Amsterdam is developing new public spaces that have two features: one, a low speed limit that creates equitable conditions for all modes of transportation, and two, separated tracks between modes to ensure pedestrians are not restrictured to isolated sidewalks. But currently walking is somewhat on the decline since more and more people prefer cycling, but the city government is working to balance this with new investment in walkability.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen started to create areas exclusive to pedestrians in the 1960’s and today, the city is still famous for its bicycle network and the many pedestrian areas that are are scattered throughout the city which then connected by a variety of different modes of transportation.

Copenhagen has anticipated the future of sustainability mobility, this shows from how the city transformation represents a shift in understanding, a recognition that enhancing pedestrian paths for walking and active transport can be one of the first steps to improve mobility and building a better city for the people.

Helsinski, Finland

Helsinki’s plans to develop a network of dense, walkable and interconnected neighbourhoods, and prioritize active transport. The idea is to make work, home, leisure, commerce and school close enough to one another to make daily travel on foot or by cycle viable and travel by car unnecessary. This Finnish capital detailed it in its plan that hopes to make car ownership “obsolete” by 2025.

Zurich, Switzerland

The plans to strengthen active transportation in Zurich began in 1996 with the so-called History Commitment. The document stated that no new parking spaces could be built in the city unless they replaced old ones, to limit the use of cars in urban areas. Thus, building parking lots has taken place mostly underground as ground level space isdesignated for creating parks, public spaces and pedestrian areas. Delivering efficient, integrated, multimodal mobility that allows people to get almost anywhere without a car has been one of the hallmark achievements of the city.

Hamburg, Germany

The city’s primary goal is to make urban space fully accessible by foot or bike, with 40% of the city’s land dedicated to green public spaces. This aims to reduce the need and reason to use cars in the central region, and showing that large cities can be walkable and designed for people. And that is why Hamburg was named as European Green Capital in 2011 for its integrated planning strategies and ambitious goals.


Can Jakarta join these walkable cities? We hope so but it will take more than building 15m sidewalks on Jl. Thamrin and Jl.Sudirman to achieve that.

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