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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

2004 | Issue 2

Everyone is a Pedestrian

Who was the first person to drive on the moon? No one celebrates this dubious achievement, but everyone remembers the images zapped back to Earth of a human footprint on the lunar surface. Oddly enough, the moon may be the closest place to home where a footstep is so revered. We’ve been walking upright for a few million years, but over the last century we’ve sat back and watched our species do everything it can to abandon this unique ability. Our culture minimizes travelling by foot in every possible way — cities are designed to accommodate cars, kids count down to their sixteenth birthdays so they can drive, and people look at us funny when we choose to walk home from work. Even our language takes a jab at walking: “pedestrian” is a synonym for something boring or common. But the very fact that walking is common is what makes it great. Spacing’s second issue focuses on the many joys and obstacles — and the politics — of walking in Toronto.

In this issue Sheila Heti (The Middle Stories author) muses on eye contact in the city; Jim Munroe (No Media Kings indie-novelist) gives us his take on the increasingly fashionable urban sport of parkour; Ryan Bigge explores the evolution of language used to describe our public spaces; Nicole Cohen examines the female pedestrian experience; Carly Zwarenstein takes us through the history of the walking in Toronto; Shawn Micallef (murmur mastermind) wanders Toronto aimlessly to uncover bits of the city’s history; Cartographer Graeme Parry weaves us through an East End alley jaunt; and Spacing contributing editor Dylan Reid outlines what Toronto needs to be a great pedestrian city.