What is it about?

This work considers how citizens of Wollongong, Australia, think about walking city streets in terms of their civic and democratic lives. There, the municipal government has committed to helping create a more liveable, walkable city. We worked with Council to better understand the kinds of 'micro-democratic' impulses that enrich and disturb people's experiences of walking their city streets.

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Why is it important?

On any day or night, billions of us walk the streets where we live: some willingly, some with no choice; some with ease and some with much effort. Walks happen for many reasons, from unexceptional trips to the shops, to large protests in which walking has become a way to uphold citizen and majority rule, fair and free elections, cooperative conduct, and individual and minority rights. Little wonder that the walkability of cities is may be considered a fundamental human right, crucial to democracy, governing, and planning.


This work was done with a larger research team and partners, and funded by the Australian Research Council's Linkage grant program. It revealed that people are not indifferent to democratic ideals in practice, and that they seek to foster empathy and care, including in relation to those living in precarity.

Professor Elaine Stratford
University of Tasmania

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Walking city streets: Spatial qualities, spatial justice, and democratising impulses, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, September 2019, Wiley, DOI: 10.1111/tran.12337.
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