“Walking with Storks” on Portugal’s Rota Vicentina

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The southwest coast of Portugal’s Alentejo region is a new destination for walking vacations. Complete with meadows, valleys, stunning views of bays and sand dunes, it is sure to please. There are turtles, eagles and storks for company.

The 350 km Rota Vicentina Trail features two main footpaths:

  • The Historical Way, the inland trail
  • The Fishermen’s Trail, the coastal section for on-foot travelers only

 http://www.rotavicentina.com/the-route/como-percorrer-a-rota-vicentina/?lang=en

 

For a travel writer’s description of day-long walks along the well-marked trails, check out:  “On foot in unsung Portugal – walking with storks”  by Roger Bray (www.thematuretraveller.co.uk)

 http://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/index.cfm?v=Roger_Bray_StarWriter&fkArticleID=97&fuseaction=pubDsp.dspStarWriter

 

Photo source:  http://www.rotavicentina.com/?lang=en

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‘Patron Saint’ of Pedestrians

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The late Hans Monderman was a Dutch traffic engineer and former driving instructor. His work in redesigning roads redefined the relationship between pedestrians and drivers.

He knew that drivers were more reliant on road markings, signs, and signals than on their common sense and intelligence.  If drivers face more uncertainty and have to choose who has ‘right of way’, they are more likely to slow down.  Everyone, pedestrian and drivers alike, become more responsible. “A wide road with a lot of signs is telling a story,” Monderman said. “It’s saying, go ahead, don’t worry, go as fast as you want, there’s no need to pay attention to your surroundings. And that’s a very dangerous message.” (Quoted in: http://walkablestreets.wordpress.com/2004/12/18/roads-gone-wild/)

Monderman’s simple roads featured public art, landscape and lighting. His early success in reducing vehicle speed in the Dutch village of Oudehaske attracted further work in more than 100 towns and villages.  His redesign of complex intersections and shopping streets caught the attention of professionals and politicians beyond the Netherlands. The EU initiated a “shared space” program based on his planning principles.

TV journalists would interview the humble Monderman in the middle of a busy stream of traffic. He would demonstrate his confidence in the responsible adaptability of drivers by walking backwards into the traffic. 

He died from cancer, aged 62.

 

http://www.theguardian.com/news/2008/feb/02/mainsection.obituaries

 Photo source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shared_space