Christmas is coming! Are you planning for a holiday trip? This issue brings you to travel around the world to gain different experiences. Let’s play hard first! Here come the travelling tips of three cities in Asia, Europe and America, followed by an introduction of their walking network that brings cohesion to the city. Knowing the stories behind the cities definitely makes your trip more meaningful and memorable.
TAINAN: Walking in the vibrant historic town
Zhengxing Street is a must-go spot in Tainan. You cannot miss the food here – a Taiwanese fruit dessert shop operated by the third generation, authentic traditional noodles and handmade ice-bar. Also, there is some Japanese food like taiyaki and green tea ice cream. You should come with an empty stomach and walking after meal helps you burn calories.
Walking (burning calories) can be done in Zhengxing Street if you choose weekends to come. It is because the street is turned into a pedestrian zone every weekend from 1 pm to 6 pm. Although the street is crowded with people, it is more vibrant. Also, there is no car surrounding, and hence you may slowly explore the old houses, local shops, craftsmanship and cultural events.
The reason why Zhengxing Street transformed into a weekend pedestrian may surprise you – The public initiated it! The street was quiet before and so the shop owners published local magazines, organized community events and even created cartoon cats as mascots for the purpose of attracting customers. The street was alive then. However, the number of cars also increased which created safety and pollution problem. In order to make the environment more favourable for business, the shop owners together fought for the street transforming to the pedestrian area, which has been implemented since 2016. Urban revitalization is a chance for improvement of city planning. From the example of Tainan, we can see demolishment is not the only way of revitalization; transformation can be a better choice.
Zhengxing Street in Tainan (Source: Tainan City Government )
Weekend pedestrian zone in Tainan (Source: Ms Du)
“Zhengxing Street is a place for young people. After transforming as a pedestrian zone, people can stroll along the street without annoying and noisy car traffic. It’s truly an excellent place to spend your leisure time.
The air quality is definitely improved in the area as no cars are allowed entering the street. The alleys and streets were mainly residential houses, but many have shifted into unique stores with hipster style. Young generation would like to come back to set up their business and fulfil their dreams. It’s worth to go and walk around this reviving community.”
Local resident in Tainan
LONDON: 2 essential walking Tube maps
A city map is not enough for travelling around London. You should also get the walking Tube map in hand. This map not only lists out the lines and stations of the railway. It also marks the walking time between stations. You should be reminded travelling by the Tube is not necessarily the fastest way and “Central London journeys that could be quicker to walk”, another guide you need, can suggest you the shortcuts.
For example, after visiting Big Ben, House of Parliament and London Eye at Westminster Station, you can walk to St Martin in the Fields at Charing Cross Station. There, you can enjoy a free lunchtime concert! It seems that taking the Tube is faster as there are two stations in between, which is not very near. However, you need to walk down to the ground and change the lines when travelling by the Tube, which takes times. Walking is more direct and it only takes 9 minutes as stated on the guide. Moreover, fares are saved!
These maps were made by Transport for London not only to ease the burden of the Tube but also promote healthy walking life. In Hong Kong, the railway is the backbone of the transport system, but with the fact that the capacity is overburdened. Will our government and MTR promote walking to substitute some railway journeys by taking these maps and guides as the reference?
Tube map in London (Source: Transport for London)
Central London journeys that could be quicker to walk suggest shortcuts between stations (Source: Transport for London)
“Only spend half a day on foot and you can visit many attractions in London. Start your journey at Big Ben, London Eye and Westminster Abbey are next to you. The world-famous Trafalgar Square is just a few blocks away to the north. Walking through St James Park, Buckingham Palace is in front of you. Wellington Arch and Hyde Park are nearby as well and close to each other. Enjoying the fresh air and lying down on the lawn as a local. It’s so easy and relaxing when getting around London on foot. ”
Visited London 5 times
NEW YORK: The sky garden with nature, art and food
“New York” is somehow representing a unique culture – a prosperous metropolitan with chilling lifestyle. If you want to get a balance, the High Line is your choice. The park was a railroad for delivering food from mid 19th century to early 20th century. It was once destined for demolition but the community rallied to support conserving the heritage and transforming it into a public space, which has been opened since 2009.
The High Line is 2.3km long, which requires around 30-minute walking time. However, you definitely need more time for this spot due to the attractions along. The greenway is featuring more than 500 species of plants and trees that create different scene in different seasons; Whitney Museum and occasional art exhibitions can be found on the bridge; Chelsea Market is at the exit of West 16th Street, where you can taste yummy Boston lobster – all these are the reasons why you need more than 30 minutes for exploring the High Line.
New York is a walkable city true to the name, proven by scoring 89 points in Walk Score. Walk Score calculates the walkability of a place, in the purpose of promoting walkable neighbourhoods. How many points can Hong Kong get if our place is reviewed? If Walk Score only considers accessibility, Hong Kong, where it is so dense, can get a high mark, in the condition that numerous vehicles on the road, which worsen the air quality and make people uncomfortable to walk, will not be considered.
High Line is the sky garden of New York City
High Line Park once was a railroad in the mid 19th century (Source: Jim Shaughnessy，thehighline.org)
“I stayed in New York City for a week in June. It’s convenient going around the city and attractions by taking the subway and on foot. Among the attractions, High Line surprised me most. It’s hard to imagine an elevated linear park cutting through blocks and tall buildings in Manhattan.
The greenway opens to the public and provides some space for New Yorker taking a breath inside the city. Visitors can go for a stroll above the ground and avoid the busy traffic on roads. Walking along the park, you can find people sit back and enjoy chatting with friends. Kids get soaked and have fun near fountains with their parents. Business people in suits grab a coffee and enjoy the green environment. It’s a wonderful place to while away the hours.”
Visited NYC for the first time in June 2018
Will you choose to walk in HK?
We usually choose to walk in foreign countries in order to explore more. We may discover their good design and policy for walkability if we drill into the planning perspective. When we are travelling, the distance of 1-2 stations is walkable. However, when the trip ends and we go back to HK, the distance of even one station seems too far to walk. Is there nothing worth exploring in our home city? Are the city scenes tedious, or indeed neglected by us?
Learn more about how fun walking is and the possibilities of walking to improve air quality from “WE ARE TRANSPORT” programme initiated by Clean Air Network. This online platform has mapped out walking routes with different themes recommended by our Walk leader and locals. Click the link here: https://we-are-transport.org and find out where you can walk around this weekend.
Read more: First WHO Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health
Read more: Hong Kong should join BreatheLife to express determination of tackling air pollution