'Putting walking as a serious means of transport on the agenda is smart’

Hundreds of politicians, urban planners and academics from all over the world are in Rotterdam to share experiences on how you can design cities for pedestrians more effectively. Alderwoman Judith Bokhove from Mobility, Youth and Language welcomed the international Walk21 pedestrian conference participants to De Doelen.


Alderwoman Bokhove: “Pedestrians play a major role in keeping cities accessible and clean. They can access everywhere easily, they don't emit anything and also take up less space than cars. Plus walking is obviously healthy too. Pedestrians are important and I want to make walking in our city as appealing as possible. We are the host city for Walk21, as we’re in a perfect position to demonstrate how we are creating space for pedestrians and thereby stimulating walking.”


De Doelen Happy Street

The street in front of De Doelen (Schouwburgplein) will only be accessible to cyclists and pedestrians for one month, starting this week. The street will be transformed into a “forest in the city” with illuminated trees and fragrant plants. Walk21 participants will be opening the Happy Street on Wednesday 9th October at 14.00 hours, by pushing the first trees on wheels into the street. The trees will subsequently be allocated a spot in the street. The Schouwburgplein street will therefore turn into a real square for a whole month.


Westblaak greening experiment

Another example is an experiment at the Westblaak. This busy road, which runs straight through the city centre, will be made attractive to pedestrians by removing parking spaces from the north side of the Westblaak. And the tiles between the cycle path and road will be replaced with plants.


Walking is healthy

The city is also actively stimulating walking, in addition to the examples which show how Rotterdam is working on improving pedestrian friendliness. This includes the introduction of walking coaches, all sorts of walking clubs and GP’s who venture out for walks with their patients in the city’s neighbourhoods and districts. Rotterdam is also working with the Erasmus University under the Healthy’R name, in order to find out how they can stimulate Rotterdam citizensto opt for healthier behaviour.

There are all sorts of different campaigns ongoing this week, aimed at getting Rotterdam citizens walking. There are free walks through the Kralingse forest and the Zuiderpark, led by a forester. And we have the ‘10,000 steps Art Walk’ on Sunday 13th October. Starting from Rotterdam Central Station’s forecourt, a
guide from Art Index Rotterdam will be taking people along a variety of art in public spaces for just 5 euro. Walk21 also coincides with the Accessibility Week and city walks have been organised which will allow you to experience what it’s like to explore the city with a visual or hearing impairment. For details of all the activities, please visit www.rotterdam.nl/lopen.


National ‘Space for Walking’ walking agenda

Plenty of attention will also be devoted to the way in which cities in the Netherlands are working on realising pedestrian-friendly cities during Walk21. For example, the national ‘Space for Walking’ walking agenda will mark the start of an initiative, organised by around 40 organisations (including provinces, municipalities and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management), to encourage walking in all manner of different ways on Wednesday 9th October. Excursions to The Hague, Scheveningen, Delft, Schiedam, Utrecht, Amsterdam and Eindhoven have been organised on the last day of the conference, Thursday 10th October.

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