Designing Walkable Cities

“Walking is the first thing an infant wants to do and the last thing an old person wants to give up”

John Butcher, Founder of Walk21

A 3-year research project between COWI, ARKITEMA and Roskilde University, funded generously by the COWIfonden

Purpose of our project

The future challenge is not only a question of more walking but also one of designing better walking experiences and regulating pedestrian flows to “design out” problems of overcrowding and “dead places”.

Inspired by the concept of mobility, our project of Designing Walkable Cities aims to inspire cities address these challenges by developing and experimenting with tools and approaches to understand and design for local walking cultures and conduct research on the street with and about users. The task is not only the frequency and amount of walking but also the perceived qualities of walking for different groups and the overall liveability of a city.

Project status

The project finished in September 2023. During the project, pre data analyses, design of test installation, testing and analysing test results were carried out in three cases:

Copenhagen, Istedgade and Enghave Plads.

Oslo, Stortorvet.

Gothenburg, Stenpiren .

The report 'Researching and Designing Walking' wraps up the overall background, methodology and results from the project.

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Walking is a hot topic in discussions about urban mobility, urbanization and UN’s sustainable goals while cities are beginning to invest heavily in walking.

London has announced its first Walking Action Plan in order to “become the world’s most walkable city” and create an extra million walking trips a day.

Copenhagen is focusing heavily on walking as a mode of transport in their upcoming Mobility Plan 2025.

“Walking for life”, The Norwegian Walking Strategy was launched by the Norwegian Public Roads Administration in 2012. Several Norwegian cities have conducted local walking strategies. COWI DK and NO have recently worked on a strategy in order to promote walking as a mode of transport and everyday activity for the municipality of Oslo.

COWI DK has done research and tested prototypes of design elements in relation to tourists and walking in Venice to help the municipality cope with 100.000 visitors a day.