The Hudson Parade safety footpath is only half completed but the CABPRA (Clareville and Bilgola Plateau Residents’ Association) community is already seeing benefits.
More people are walking, meeting and greeting neighbours.
Those living in more walkable neighbourhoods trust their neighbours more, participate in community projects, clubs and volunteering more, and are less likely to describe television as their main form of entertainment than survey participants living in less walkable neighbourhoods, a US study found.
From a personal point of view I’m already finding I bump into neighbours more than I was before as we all go out walking. More is happening at Clareville Beach. And more of my neighbours are walking down for a swim, coffee or even a picnic at Clareville Beach.
I’m also getting out and socialising more – this is important for me as, like many living this far from Sydney, I work from home. I seem to be much happier and even more confident, feeling a lot less isolated.
Health Benefits – physical and mental
Physical health benefits show the more you walk the fitter and healthier you are. And if live in a walkable community you are likely to have a lower body mass index (BMI) – but only if the area is attractive and safe to walk in. Please see this study.
British researchers assessed the role the environment plays in the effectiveness of exercise for mental well-being. Participants were assigned to either a green outdoor walk or an indoor shopping-mall walk, for the same amount of time. Key Finding: Improvements in self-esteem and mood were significantly greater following the green outdoor walk in comparison to the equivalent indoor walk, especially for feelings of anger, depression and tension. Parks and street trees can help generate the green exercise benefits, as seen on the Green Exercise Research Website, University of Essex.
For me the benefits are very visual as I have lost a whole dress size since the Hudson Pde footpath has been built (and only half has been built and it has been in for just over a month). Not sure if this is entirely due to the footpath but it could be. And as I said before I’m happier and more confident, putting a big smile on my face. So for me seeing is believing!
Neighbours have also said that when the path goes all the way to Hilltop Rd they will walk their kids to school.
This is almost a no-brainer. The more we walk the less impact from cars, petrol, CO2 and car-parks. The most obvious benefit will be reducing the pressure on Clareville Beach car-park and it’s surrounding streets.
But there is also a more subtle environmental benefit. When we get out and walk we see the beauty of our environment. We see the trees, plants, birds and, of course, our beautiful Pittwater. We feel ownership of this environment, so it becomes more precious and valuable to us. And if we find something valuable, loved even, we will protect it.
Our small local businesses and shops will benefit. Shops at Hilltop and the Clareville Kiosk could see business increase as pedestrians can access them easier. Businesses set up at Clareville Beach, like Avalon Stand-up Paddle and Cafe on the Way could also benefit. As could Avalon Beach shops, cafes and restaurants as we discover they are now safer to walk to.
Todd Alexander Litman from the Victoria, Canada, Transport Policy Institute has written a very interesting paper on the Economic Value of Walkability, which is well worth a read.
It investigates the value of walking (the activity) and walkability (the quality of walking conditions, including factors such as the existence of walking facilities and the degree of walking safety, comfort and convenience). It identifies categories of economic benefits, describes how they can be measured, and the degree to which these are reflected in current transportation and land use planning.
Again talking from experience, this month of getting out and walking has unlocked my creativity. I’m always thinking of new things, new ideas. I’m up early in the morning because I’ve just thought of something. If I get stuck on an idea – I go for a walk down the beach. I sometimes go for a swim too. I’ve even had walking meetings.
There is evidence to support that others find walking stimulates their “little grey cells” too.
Darwin constructed a sand-covered path, known as the sandwalk, at Down House, where he wrote Origin of the Species and Descent of Man. He called it his ‘thinking path’. Mozart asserted his best ideas came while walking. Many therapists, recognizing the link between exercise and shifted mindsets, are holding their sessions while walking with their clients, and business innovator Nilofer Merchant recently delivered a TED talk sharing her penchant for holding all her meetings while walking.
The final message
Thank you Pittwater Council, CABPRA and all involved in building the Hudson Parade footpath. It is a great success and stands for all CABPRA is trying to achieve for this community.
CABPRA hopes that Pittwater Council also sees the huge benefits the safety footpath provides for us and will do other similar projects.