With all the recent, remarkable livable streets improvements to the streets of New York City, it's no surprise the 10th annual, Walk21 Conference chose us for its host digs. Visitors and attendees were treated to a cornucopia of pedestrian street infrastructure to salivate over and debate; including tours of the recently opened High Line to a special visit to the soon-to-be-restored High Bridge. Featuring a plethora of speakers, design charrettes and walking workshops, the three-day event drew experts from the UK, Austria, Japan, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Serbia, Italy, and Australia, just to name a few.
We were able to speak with the organizers and as well as conference registrants, and also got to a chance to chat with some of those on the marquee such as Jan Gehl (Gehl Architects, Copenhagen), Janette Sadik-Khan (Commissioner, NYC Department of Transportation), Kristina Alvendal (Vice Mayor of Stockholm) and Gil Peñalosa (Walk and Bike for Life, Ontario), about the future of walking and the vital importance of this conference in inspiring world leaders.
<cite class="speaker_1" >Gil Penalosa:</cite>
[0:25] I really like that this conference is just focusing on walking. Walk 21.
<cite class="speaker_2" >Ellen Vanderslice:</cite>
[0:30] I think that in the United States, we have much to learn from international best practices when it comes to designing livable cities.
<cite class="speaker_3" >Eric Anderson:</cite>
[0:37] For myself and my colleagues from the West Coast, from California, we're just really excited about the amazing laboratory that's going on here on the streets of New York.
<cite class="speaker_4" >Louise Duggan:</cite>
[0:45] New York is a special place and I think this is a special time for New York right now. There's such a commitment to public space and rethinking of all the different things that are going on.
<cite class="speaker_5" >Speaker:</cite>
[0:54] I'm delighted to be able to be here in the City of Cities.
<cite class="speaker_6" >Rodney Tolley:</cite>
[0:59] This is our 10th event so it's a wonderful city to come to and we're thrilled, absolutely delighted to be here in New York.
<cite class="speaker_7" >Jon Orcutt:</cite>
[1:06] We're having major addresses by some of the leaders in the field, experts on the economics of mobility and location and walking. Then there are dozens of workshop of really breaking down into discussions and even some design turrets. And then there's a huge series of walking tours and mobile workshops looking at some of the recent work that we've done here in the City. Looking at things still to come like the reopening of the High Bridge across the Harlem River.
<cite class="speaker_8" >Jim Walker:</cite>
[1:29] I really wanted to see this high line and people were talking about this old freeway, I think, that's being made into a park. That just sounds fantastic to me. And to do something so positive like that, it just seems like a real opportunity that other people can be learning.
<cite class="speaker_9" >Janette Sadik-Khan:</cite>
[1:42] I think there's an increased recognition of the importance of creating people-oriented cities and sustainable societies and we've done a lot in that regard here in New York City. So, it's a perfect time to bring people all around the world together to share ideas about what works, what doesn't work and encourage people to get around a little differently outside of a car.
<cite class="speaker_10" >Sarah Graventa:</cite>
[2:01] Well, as Frankie would say, if you make it here, you can make it anywhere. So, if you can make great public spaces in the middle of Broadway, then anything is possible anywhere. I mean, this is a fantastic model for experimentation and for leading the way.
<cite class="speaker_11" >Kristina Alvendal:</cite>
[2:15] It's really inspiring and it's also interesting to see that the trend is all over the world now, showing that we need to build the cities in a different way than we have done so far.
<cite class="speaker_12" >Speaker:</cite>
[2:26] There's absolutely no substitute for being infused and excited and inspired by coming to a place like this and thinking, "Wow, I'm not alone. Other people are facing exactly the same problems as me and I want to go and talk to them."
<cite class="speaker_13" >Gil Penalosa:</cite>
[2:39] I think the biggest challenge is to realize that walkability is an issue. That one of the things that make us happiest and have the most important quality of life is the walkability.
<cite class="speaker_14" >Jan Gehl:</cite>
[2:50] In Copenhagen, now has made a citywide walking policy that by 2015, everybody should be walking 20 percent more than they do today and inviting people to use their own energy and their own muscles to get around.
<cite class="speaker_15" >Speaker:</cite>
[3:06] People my age are looking for different things. We're not looking to go out to the suburbs. We're looking to be here where things are happening with our friends. I want my children to experience what kind of type fuzzy, interesting, kind of diverse life can be. I think that's the best ways to offer it.
<cite class="speaker_16" >Alison Bochsler:</cite>
[3:21] Everything is happening right now, the health, the environment, the economy. Everything is sort of coming together, which is kind of an exciting time for us to try to move this agenda forward and make more walkable communities and so we're starting to see some of those pieces come together.
[applause] [music] </p><p>[3:37]