Readers of this blog and of our print editions (and anyone who has been unfortunate enough to bump into me on the street) will probably know of my loathing of cars and my love of walking.
Another fan of independent perambulation is Will Self. He sees it as a cure for the sense of disconnectedness one might experience in the post-industrial urban environment.
He has a piece in today’s Guardian (in fact a partial transcript of his inaugural lecture at Brunel) about walking as a political act. It’s not wholly readable to be honest but it does contain this:
The contemporary flâneur is by nature and inclination a democratising force who seeks equality of access, freedom of movement and the dissolution of corporate and state control.
The article also tells us that walking is in decline, that by mid-century it may be a completely obsolete way of getting around. My recent experience of life in the States would seem to concur, that the future is not bright for walkers. It’s difficult to get from your house to the corner store without a car: not just because of distance but because of a lack of pedestrian infrastructure. Try crossing a three-lane road with no sidewalks to speak of on either side, all to buy a newspaper and an aspirin.
The “mid-century” prediction presumes that the way of the future will be the American way though. I prefer to remain optimistic, choosing to believe in a future predominated by Asian modes of culture rather than American. Economically, this does seem more likely. In which case, we’re looking at the car-free pedestrian-friendly future of karuma banare.