Healthy steps towards walkable city

Tayler NealeAlbany Advertiser

Known as the “world guru on walking”, Rodney Tolley was in Albany this week and believes there is unlocked potential for the town to become more walkable.

Dr Tolley met with local designers, architects and public space planners to discuss the benefits of walk friendly communities.

The presentation was hosted by the Heart Foundation as part of the Healthy Active by Design Education and Training program.

Dr Tolley said recent urban planning throughout Australia was not conducive to healthy living.

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“What Australia has been doing for the past 50 years is producing obesogenic environments; in other words designing places that will make you obese,” he said

“If you are embedded in a design of housing or a residential neighbourhood where there is nothing to walk to, no possibility of any physical activity as part of your everyday life, then you’re much more likely to have those obesogenic outcomes.

“What the Healthy Active by Design tool is about is to say to all of these people you need to be joining together to make sure that you design neighbourhoods that will provide good-quality opportunities for people to be healthy.”

Dr Tolley indicated Albany had the ability to improve its walkability.

“It’s evident that Albany has some good spots and there are other spots that are not connected to it,” he said. “You can see the potential is terrific but it hasn’t been achieved yet and there is quite a lot of work that needs to done to realise that potential.”

The UK researcher said there were a number of subsidiary benefits attached to designing walkable cities. “My message is if you get good walkability you get lots of other outcomes, it’s not just about health,” he said

“You get strong communities, you get reduced crime, increased road safety and then there are economic benefits.”

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