Pedestrian Power

| May / June 2004

A new movement that's got legs

It might be going too far to say that pedestrians have bounced back from the brink of extinction. But it's certainly true that people's habit of walking almost disappeared in the 20th century beneath a rising tide of auto traffic. According to James Nolan, an American in Spain, the streets of Madrid are once again filled with people on foot. Even in the United States, where the car is king, a growing movement is reasserting citizens' right to take a walk. Utne editor Jay Walljasper chronicles this pedestrian uprising and discovers its secret weapon.
-- The Editors

One of the local characters in the small city where I grew up was Judge Green. A towering figure, probably 6 feet 7, he was widely admired around town, in part because he had been star of the only Urbana High School team ever to make it to the championship game of the Illinois state basketball tournament. I remember him as a cheerful man who greeted everyone with a smile. But there was one thing that made him seem a bit peculiar: He walked to work every day. If you drove down Broadway at certain hours, you couldn't miss him striding along the sidewalk.