Do you want a better world? Walk! - Do práce na kole

Do you want a better world? Walk!

Do you want a better world? Walk!
23. 12. 2022

What is the best way to kick-start the creativity needed to change the world for the better? Yes, you guessed right, the answer is nothing easier than walking.

A modern human spends a large part of his/her day in front of a monitor or screen. Which is not exactly the optimal scenario for producing creative ideas. Marily Oppezzo, a researcher at Stanford University, offers an alternative. In her TED Talk, aptly titled Want to be more creative? Go for a walk, she demonstrates how walking improves our ability to think creatively. How?

What you can do with keys

She had her “guinea pigs” brainstorm for four minutes on innovative uses for everyday items like keys. The goal was to find as many realistic and alternative uses for any given item as possible, ones that no one had thought of before. An example of such an idea is: “You are about to die and you use a key to carve the name of your murderer into the ground”. It meets both of the two criteria.

Marily tested two groups of people twice, either sitting or walking. One group sat during both tests, and the other group sat first and then walked. In the first round, both groups generated similar amounts of ideas, while the other group came up with twice as many during the walking session. What struck Marily most was that the “walking effect” on the respondents’ creativity lasted even after they sat down again.

Despite the fact that the treadmill on which the respondents walked was placed in a room with no windows and therefore no external stimuli, the differences between the creativity of those walking and those sitting were truly surprising. In terms of harnessing the positive effect of walking on creativity, Marily suggests the following:

  • Brainstorm about the problem as you walk.
  • Walk at a pace you are comfortable with.
  • Don´t get stuck on the first idea. Let new ones come freely.
  • Think out loud and record your ideas. Writing things down can inhibit creativity.
  • If nothing creative comes up, take a break and come back to the walk later.

How do they do it in Milan?

These steps are simple and easy to implement. Yet, it is not entirely common in our society to deal with problems while walking. Architect Demetrio Scopelliti, who is an advisor to the Mayor of Milan on urban planning and public green spaces, knows that if you want to change the world, you need the ability to look at it from unusual angles and recognize its potential. And he also has a clear vision of a city of short distances and no cars. The center of Milan is already almost exclusively pedestrianized, and the city’s leadership has more plans for the future in this direction.

A snapshot from Milan

Walking as a tool

As an urban planner, Demetrius is deeply interested in how people move around the city. And he believes that the only way to design a place that works for people is to walk it. Being physically present in the space he designs, along with the people he designs it for, kicks his creativity into high gear and helps him solve the problems faced by the people who interact with that space. For him, walking is a tool for discovery, understanding, observation, and also inspiration. He cherishes it and enjoys public space, from exchanging a smile with a stranger to knowing that he is minimizing his carbon footprint. He wants to offer the same experience to the people who use the public space he has designed.

Squares should belong to people, not cars

Let’s ask those who live here

“Without street life, no city can be considered good,” he says, emphasizing that the sophisticated design of public spaces has an impact on society as a whole. His vision is already bearing fruit. Milan is slowly and collaboratively transforming itself into a pedestrian-friendly city, which is the goal of his new strategy. As part of the experiment, cars have been temporarily banned from the second-largest square, Piazza Castello. Wi-Fi, smart lighting and seating, special events, performances, and shows have turned the square into a place that literally attracts pedestrians and increases their willingness to collaborate on projects for the common good.

In short, walking opens up the potential for better design. And well-designed places provide the potential to get more people walking and interested in creative solutions to the problems that plague the world today.

You too can contribute to better data on where people walk in the city, what routes they choose and why. Just upload your routes to our system during the regular Bike to Work (or Walk or Trot) challenges. We then work with the anonymized data to negotiate with individual cities for better infrastructure.

A helmet is not armor. It can not replace safe infrastructure and safe distance

A helmet is not armor. It can not replace safe infrastructure and safe distance

A 2018 study entitled The Impact of Helmet Wearing on Crashes and Injuries, in which former British Cycling Councilor Colin Clarke and journalist Cris Gillham analyzed data from Australia, New…
September challenge Bike to Work supports European Mobility Week. Join in too

September challenge Bike to Work supports European Mobility Week. Join in too

AutoMat association has started registration for the September challenge Bike to Work, on foot or by jogging. This year it takes place between 11.-24. September and its aim is to…
How can you effectively fight climate change? Try a bike

How can you effectively fight climate change? Try a bike

“Italy will be scorched by a dog from the underworld, a global temperature record may fall in the USA. The earth is gripped by heat,” reports Czech Television on its…