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Famous Writers on Walking for Transportation, Health and Delight

People crossing the street

Throughout history, writers have taken refuge and inspiration from the streets and sidewalks on which they live. In preparation for this year’s Jane Jacobs Forum on the Walkable (& Rollable) City, we are pleased to bring you some of their reflections on the role walking plays in transportation, health and delight.

“Before there was any public transportation in London, something like fifty thousand people a hour used to pass over London Bridge on their way to work; a single artery. Railroad transportation can bring from forty to sixty thousand people per hour . . .  whereas our best expressways, using far more space, cannot move more than four to six thousand cars . . . ”

Lewis Mumford (1895-1990) The New Yorker’s architecture critic for over 30 years, a recipient of the National Book Award and co-founder of the Regional Plan Association.

“The longest journey begins with a single step, not with a turn of the ignition key.” – Edward Abbey (1927-1989), Author, essayist and environmentalist.

“I have two doctors, my left leg and my right.” – G. M. Trevelyan (1876-1962), An English historian and first president of the Youth Hostels Association.

“The sum of the whole is this: walk and be happy; walk and be healthy.” – Charles Dickens (1812-1870), Popular Victorian novelist and advocate for social reform

“God made us walking animals—pedestrians. As a fish needs to swim, a bird to fly, a deer to run, we need to walk, not in order to survive, but to be happy.” – Enrique Penalosa (1955-  ), Known for the bus-based transit system established when he was mayor of Bogota, Columbia.

“Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.” – Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), Author, philosopher and proto-ecologist.

“Nothing like a nighttime stroll to give you ideas.” – J.K. Rowling (1965-  ), Author of the Harry Potter series.

“All walking is discovery.  On foot we take the time to see things whole.” – Hal Borland (1900-1978), Journalist and author.