One city so far: Sydney. Soon to come: Melbourne. Want me to talk about your city? Let me know.

1. Sydney, Australia

Population5,231,147 (2021 est.)
Population density433/km2
Walk share4.6 (2017)
Passenger carsunknown
Paulo’s Walk Score7

Australia is great. As an example, every year, 200,000 Australians stay up all night just to watch Eurovision at 5am. Australian cities are also quite OK for walking. Now the Global Observatory of Healthy and Sustainable Cities suggests that Sydney and other Australian cities are rubbish when it comes to “walkability”. But this is because they understand “walkability” as “being near things”. So Australian cities fare badly because they have low density suburban areas. This post is mainly about the quality of streets, not how far people live from where they want to walk to. Also, I did not venture to the outer suburbs.

Sydney is full of nice and well-maintained parks, both big ones and small, neighburhood ones. They are nice places to walk. Walk along shopping streets is also good. They tend to be covered, so there’s protection from sun and rain. And there’s plenty to see, and places to sit and watch the world go by.

Shopping street, Sydney © P. Anciaes

The downtown is not at human scale at all, because of the skyscrapers. But there are still glorious pedestrian environments, as below.

Pedestrian bridge, Sydney. © P. Anciaes

Most residential areas have good-quality streets, well-designed, and with many trees. Again, I must stress that I did not go to the outer suburbs, where the environent is more car-dominated.

Residential street, Sydney. © P. Anciaes

I saw a lot of interesting road design solutions, often involving vegetation, as the one below.

Unusual street design, Sydney. © P. Anciaes

The pedestrian infrastructure (footways and crossings) is good or very good, and the city boasts what is probably the largest rainbow pedestrian crossing in the world. Of course, haters gonna hate.

Rainbow crossing, Sydney. © P. Anciaes

So, overall, the central and inner suburban areas of Sydney are a great place to walk. The city governments has further improvements high on its agenda, so things will only get better.

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