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The eminent Professor of Geriatric Medicine, Bernard Isaacs (cited in Giles-Corti et al 2008) said, Design for the young and you exclude the old; design for the old and you include the young. This would appear to be a useful design principle for all public spaces, but especially those with the restorative qualities found in even modest, naturalistic settings in urban areas (Kaplan and Kaplan 2011). A restorative network of walkable routes and destinations in regional towns could be influential in creating a sense of well-being and improve their attractiveness to the 65 years plus demographic set to become nearly a quarter of the population in coming decades.
Walking, as a human activity, is linked to the evolution of our senses and should not be regarded as just a movement mode (Nicholson 2008). Walking has, in fact, helped to mould our societies and cultures. It has played a significant role in the fields of philosophy, spirituality, sexuality, literature, history, science, politics, the design of cities and many other fields (Gros 2009).
This paper examines the need for regional and local councils to reorient their urban design and planning policies and practices to focus on the many benefits of walking. There is more to walking than active transport and more to active transport than cycling. Or as Jan Gehl observed: We have a department for roads, why not a department for pedestrians? (Bennett 2015).