Keynote Sessions

Tuesday Opening Plenary

The opening of Walk21 Rotterdam really sets the tone: Judith Bokhove, Vice Mayor of Rotterdam and Jim Walker, founder of Walk21, will open the conference together. You will hear about the City of Rotterdam’s ambitions for the future and what the city hopes to learn from the conference. It goes without saying that the opening will be an inspirational event for all who attend! Speakers are to be confirmed.

Tuesday Second Keynote

Putting the pedestrian first makes cities healthier. Not only because their residents will be moving around more, but also because all carless travel reduces the carbon footprint. In this session, professor Tim Beatly from the University of Virginia will be interviewed about Blophilic Cities. These cities place nature at the centre of their design and planning. Lucy Saunders from Healthy Streets will show us that it is possible to put the experience of walking at the centre of every decision. Her Healthy Streets Check proves that the situation as changed and that streets are being designed to improve health in London.

Tuesday Third Keynote

How can we use human empathy, creativity and diversity to innovate in the city? Tinna C. Nielsen will explain how encouraging people to walk strengthens communities. If you could experience a city from the perspective of a 3-year-old child, what would you change? Cecilia Vaca Jones shows why walking is a key part of giving all children a good start in life. Shreya Gadepalli will tell us about the challenges faced by Indian cities in providing transport systems that create a healthy environment for all. How can we accelerate the transition towards a city in which walking is the best way to get around? Jorn van Wemmenhove will share his work in different situations in Rotterdam, Tel Aviv and Rosario.

Tuesday Fourth Keynote

Innovations such as new mobility and e-commerce are having a cascading effect on our cities in terms of where we live, how we move and where we spend our time. All of this impacts on urban infrastructure, quality of place and levels of activity. These aspects could boost or completely hamper walking and walkability depending on how cities prepare for these changes, how they work with the private sector and whether they can shape these innovations to support community goals. This discussion will draw from North American and European examples to help attendees understand what is happening in this space, which questions they should be asking, models of public and private interaction and how cites need to adapt to this shifting landscape.

Tuesday Plenary Keynote

Mari Sanders
How does Europe look from the eyes of those with a physical impairment? To find an answer to this question, filmmaker Mari Sanders, who is a wheelchair user due to cerebral palsy, made an unusual journey through Europe. For his documentary, The Wheelchair Road Movie – Over the thresholds of Europa, he  zigzagged through the continent, from Italy to Sweden and from England to Bulgaria.

Henriette Vamberg (Gehl)
Henriette Vamberg from Gehl will speak about People First Mobility and how a more holistic approach to public space, public life and mobility can create better outcomes, benefitting health, sustainability and equality. Examples from Copenhagen, New York and other global cities show what different cities are doing to become People First – at different scales and costs.

Poster Plenary Session

One minute, one slide

During Walk21Rotterdam, you can visit an inspiring exhibition of posters providing information about, for example, walkable neighbourhoods, the best methods to change walking behaviour and the most pleasant walking routes. But who are the people behind all of this information?  Find out in this one minute, one slide session! Each poster presenter will have one minute to present their ideas to a plenary audience and encourage you to take a look at their poster. Rodney Tolley will be keeping time, giving each presenter one minute exactly!

Wednesday First Plenary

Helge Hillnhütter will discuss the relationship between walking and public transport, the emotions about and the perception of walking distances. It is easy to conclude that the character of urban environments substantially affects any attempts to reduce car use. Using data, he explains why. Frank Legters will explain the Royal HaskoningDHV’s vision of how transport – walking included– will guide us to a healthy city environment. Philippe Christ will then lead a panel discussion between Hillnhütter, Legters and Sonia Lavadinho. Lavadinho will add a new way of analysing data, by addressing indicators such as word blocks to enhance the stories that will ultimately convince people that walkability matters! Finally, Mariela will Alfonzo show us how best to integrate data-driven city making in order to enable more walkable development – justifying investments in better places!

Wednesday Second Keynote

Annemieke Fontein

Landscape architect Annemieke Fontein from the city of Rotterdam has noticed that pedestrian policy is definitely having an impact on designing the public space. Appealing public spaces also encourage people to actively use them and spend time there. The narrow pavements in some city districts need to be widened. Fontein will explain Rotterdam’s core value that everything should be as comfortable as possible for pedestrians.

Abdelkader Benali

The Dutch writer and marathon runner Abdelkader Benali had been cultural professor at the TU Delft and has since became an expert on squares. He has found out that everybody has an opinion about a square and that everyone has emotions and memories. How does it come for example that on beautiful squares the weather always seems nice, sunny and bright?

Wednesday Third Keynote

Talkshow Ruimte voor Lopen

Meer lopen is een oplossing voor een flink aantal maatschappelijke vraagstukken. Lopen is een duurzame manier van verplaatsen; het ontlast de verkeersdruk en vermindert het beslag op schaarse ruimte. Lopen is leuk om te doen en goed voor gezondheid en welzijn. Het draagt bij aan de strijd tegen bewegingsarmoede en stressgerelateerde klachten. Ruimte voor lopen maakt de omgeving leefbaar, omdat het prettig toeven is in loopvriendelijke gebieden. Daarmee bevordert het ontmoeting en zelfredzaamheid.


Om te stimuleren dat de potentie van lopen beter benut gaat worden hebben het Ministerie van Infrastructuur en Waterstaat, Wandelnet en CROW het initiatief genomen om te komen tot een landelijk samenwerkingsverband: Platform Ruimte voor Lopen. Dit platform, waar verschillende overheden, kennisinstellingen en maatschappelijke organisaties bij zijn aangesloten, gaat op woensdag 9 oktober officieel van start. In een afwisselend uur hoort u meer over de ambitie, doelen, partners en activiteiten van het platform. Een van de hoofdgasten is Daan Zandbelt, Rijksadviseur voor de fysieke leefomgeving.

Wednesday Fourth Keynote

Walking is not only beneficial for your health and the environment - it is also good for the economy. Ben Rossiter noticed that walking is typically overlooked in planning and investment decisions. That is why his organisation, Victoria Walks, asked global consultancy firm Arup to examine the economic case for investment in walking, in order to help us understand why walking seems to slip through the net of government decision making and investment. This report shows the potential that walking has to deliver significant benefits for both cities and people. Guiliano Mingardo has analysed the data of 80 shopping areas across Europe. He found that most shoppers travelled by foot! Compelling evidence showing that walking is good for the economic vitality of city centres.

Wednesday Fifth Keynote

Justice In Traffic

Thomas Vantoutrive is a lecturer at the Research Group for Urban Development, Faculty of Design Sciences, University of Antwerp. Currently he is working on the citizen science project Straatvinken. 2.000 citizens have been counting how many pedestrians, cars and cyclist were passing. Is the division between the space for cars, cycles and pedestrians just and fair?

Paula Andrea Palacio Salazar will share the practical chase of how the city of Medellin have helped to meet the needs of children in the city. How did they target new infrastructure to respond to demand by identifying a community that faces many obstacles and engaging children who are not usually visible in the decision making process?

Claudia Adriazola will show that we have not developed our cities to promote walking, Over 50% of people who die traffic collisions in cities are pedestrians. We need a better method. Traffic safety is crucial in order to encourage people to getting walk around cities again. Claudia Adriazola will present examples of cities that are working on managing speed and dangerous intersections and corridors and how this is making an impact.

Wednesday Plenary

Dr. Meleckidzedeck Khayesi is a human geographer specialising in transport planning. He works at the World Health Organization, facilitating implementation and evaluation of road safety programmes in different countries, preparation of policy guidance and strengthening road safety capacity development. He is dedicated to transformative learning and policy change on a local level.

Thursday Closing Keynote

Internationally renowned and Rotterdam based landscape architect Adriaan Geuze will tell about the choices he makes. How does he fit in the pedestrian for example at the Coolsingel but also in other projects?

Judith Bokhove Vice major for Mobility and Bert Wijbenga, Vice Mayor for Public Space from the City of Rotterdam will look back on Walk21 Rotterdam. What are the lessons learned from the conference? How will this knowledge help in putting the pedestrians first? Together with Jim Walker from Walk21, they will pass the baton to the city who will organize Walk21 Rotterdam in 2020!