Here’s a new book from Rodney Tolley Conference Director of Walk21 and Paul Tranter Honorary Associate Professor in Geography at UNSW in Canberra Australia.

Called  Slow Cities: Conquering our speed addiction for health and sustainability this book provides a well documented reference on how we got to value and weigh transportation networks around vehicles, and what we need to do to change the paradigm.

Slow Cities demonstrates, counterintuitively, that reducing the speed of travel within cities saves time for people and creates more sustainable, liveable, prosperous and healthy environments. By ‘slowing the city’ we mean both reducing the speed of existing motorised transport as well as encouraging a mode shift to the supposedly ‘slower’ modes of walking, cycling and public transport.

The book begins by outlining how speed came to have such a dominant impact on the way we plan, design and operate cities, even though the supposed advantages of speed are largely illusory when they are carefully assessed.

We explain that instead of providing advantages, speed can steal our time, our money and our health and we outline policies, strategies, tactics and behavioural interventions that can be employed to create healthier ‘slow cities’.

The final chapter presents a ‘Manifesto for 21st Century Slow Cities’ and an afterword explains the critical relevance of such cities in a world transformed by the COVID-19 crisis. We hope that this book will help revolutionise how we think about speed and health, and inspire fundamental change in how we plan and design for how we move and live in cities.”

You can take a look at the book at this free trial here.  The book can be purchased here.


Image: HealthyActivebyDesignAus


  1. Thanks Sandy, I’ve said this from the beginning about the SkyTrain extension to UBC and to Langley.

    We do not create better more accessible cities by encouraging people to travel farther by providing cheap and easy means to do so. That goes for transit as much as for cars. Most of us here seem to get the car part. Most do not seem to get the transit part.

    I’m not saying there is no room in our transit system for speed. But we should be designing our cities to get the majority of people going to UBC living at or near UBC. The same goes for Langley. But both those SkyTrain extensions would encourage people to travel farther, rather than encourage them to move closer. Yes, not everybody can do that, but should we make bad policy to support the few? And by doing so encourage the few to be many?

    Langley SkyTrain will encourage part of the downtown Vancouver workforce to move farther out – to Langley and beyond. UBC SkyTrain will encourage staff and students to live in Coquitlam and beyond. This is another form of sprawl and is wasted time and energy and at great cost to the taxpayer. It undermines Surrey’s and Langley’s ability to anchor commercial development in their own communities and pushes more into downtown Vancouver.

    Another major problem with encouraging people to live farther is they tend not to care about the health and well being of the spaces “in their way”. Those areas become a negative experience in their mind – somewhere they need to get past instead of to enjoy. The more people don’t care about a place the harder it is to defend the livability of that place.

  2. It will be interested to read it in light of the sociologist Philippe Gaboriau article: « Le vélo, lenteur des riches, vitesses des pauvres », in Christian Pociello, Sports et société: approche socio-culturelle des pratiques, Universite de Saint Etienne, 1981

    where he posits, that basically the “slow thing” movement (here the article seems prescient because it is written 40 years ago) is a consequence of city gentrification: it is a way to re-appropriate the space and exclude other people (understand- the poor) from it, by making access to the “re appropriated” space harder.

    1. It certainly runs the risk of that problem but it isn’t a given to become that problem. It’s still the choice of policy makers which way it pans out and is up to us to influence it.

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