Speeding up on the world’s sidewalks

Stephen Beard May 2, 2007

Speeding up on the world’s sidewalks

Stephen Beard May 2, 2007


SCOTT JAGOW:We’re always hearing that our lives are speeding up, more frenetic. But here is the definitive proof:A new study says we are walking faster. Our European correspondent Stephen Beard joins us from London.Stephen, are they serious?

STEPHEN BEARD:Yes, life in the fast lane is getting faster. Research by a British university, which has gone to the trouble of measuring the speed at which pedestrians cover 60 feet of sidewalk, has indeed revealed that pedestrians all over the world are walking about 10 percent faster than a decade ago.

And there does actually seem to be a clear correlation between walking speed and economic growth, because the sharpest acceleration in walking speeds has been in China and Singapore.

JAGOW:And how does this affect our lives?

BEARD:Adversely, it would appear. Walking faster, particularly in cities, doesn’t seem to be good for your health. Researchers say it indicates people are more stressed, and more hurried. So even if they are walking faster, their health doesn’t appear to be benefitting.

JAGOW:You mentioned a couple of places where people are walking fast — what other cities really made the list?

BEARD:We’ve got Dublin in fifth place. However, New York is eight, and number two — now this is really bizarre — Copenhagen, not what you’d think of one of the fastest cities on the planet. But Copenhagen is number two on the list.

JAGOW:How much stock are you putting in this whole thing?

BEARD:Not a huge amount. I mean, the researchers have compared these statistics that were gathered… faster walking is not a sign of physical good health.

JAGOW:All right, let’s just take a deep breath and slow down. Stephen Beard in London, thanks.

BEARD:Gotta go.

JAGOW:And in Los Angeles, where nobody walks, I’m Scott Jagow.

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