A 75.4 Block Marathon in Brooklyn

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Andy Newman and Barnaby, his basset hound with a trace of beagle, set out on a marathon walk around his block in Brooklyn. He was never more than 416 feet from home “a feat that has never been attempted in the history of extreme sport.”  Barnaby made it through the first 22 laps. Newman devised this adventure during a routine outing to accommodate Barnaby’s ‘call of nature’. He timed it for the day after New York’s 2009 marathon of 40,000 people running, walking or wheeling their way through five boroughs.

Newman’s marathon was a frame by frame contemplation of the static and active aspects of his neighborhood.  What he discovered that marathon day were the stuff of small “L” life:

  • Remembering neighbor’s names, reflecting on their homes, on long surviving businesses alongside new ones, on a rocking Pentecostal church, on and on as he went.
  • The gentle tap of construction hammers on a new building louder as he approached, dimmer after passing by
  • A young girl walking her dog while reading a book
  • People who simply stare out from their homes
  • An ice cream lady 100 feet from his house
  • A box of books open to takers, gradually diminishing
  • A suspicious man, a woman nursing a beer, a hipster in headphones
  • The number of steps from his house to the intersections
  • That a newly opened spa could do a pedicure on lap 50 – “digging 18 miles of road from under his toenails.”

 For the last lap, Newman roused Barnaby from a deep sleep to join him.  Halfway around the ultimate block, Newman met a man walking his dachshunds and he announced completion of the 75 block effort.  The man’s response: “And he still won’t go?”

Adapted from:   http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/01/nyregion/01marathon.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

What’s the Walkability of Your Neighborhood?

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What is Walkability?

                (From: http://www.janeswalk.org/information/resources/walkability)

Walkability is a quantitative and qualitative measurement of how inviting or un-inviting an area is to pedestrians. Walking matters more and more to towns and cities as the connection between walking and socially vibrant neighborhoods is becoming clearer. Built environments that promote and facilitate walking – to stores, work, school and amenities – are better places to live, have higher real estate values, promote healthier lifestyles and have higher levels of social cohesion.

When you think of an area you like to walk, it probably has certain conditions or features that make it walker-friendly. For many that means wide well-maintained sidewalks, benches, good lighting, direct routes, interesting stores, buildings and amenities. For others it might mean shady green spaces, quieter routes or places where strollers, dogs and scooters are welcome. Walkability is a subjective measurement – some people like to stroll quietly on side streets, while others seek out the hustle and bustle of busy commercial districts. Often these subjective considerations are about our desire to be safe, other times it’s about aesthetic preferences.

Examining the walkability of a neighborhood, town or city is an important factor to consider when thinking about making places more welcoming, livable and safe. Areas where lots of people are around, shopping, going to work or school, or just hanging out are considered more desirable living places which promote social connectedness, healthy lifestyles and reduce car dependence and greenhouse gas emissions.

Our Walkability Tool Kit is a very basic introduction to the concepts of walkability and offers some simple tools to help you measure and capture the walking environment in your neighborhood. The process helps connect local residents, raises awareness about what makes a community walkable, and the data and observations collected can be useful in the larger goal of making improvements.

For Walkability Tool Kit:   http://www.janeswalk.org/old/assets/uploads_docs/2010_walkability_checklist_janes_walk.pdf

See also:   http://tidescanada.org/about/change-makers/janes-walk-and-centre-for-city-ecology/

                  http://www.janeswalk.org/information/resources/walkability