On a trip to
Valencia, Spain, with recent Fellowship readings on my mind, I was on the lookout for things like mixed use development, strong
public transit, and pedestrian and bike friendly neighborhoods. I like this quote from the National Center for Healthy Housing report:
|Marion Ceraso, MHS, MA|
WI Population Health Service Fellowship
“…in neighborhoods that foster the conditions that
promote good health, one often sees a cascading series of mutually reinforcing
attributes that together create prime conditions for health: pedestrian
friendly neighborhood design reduces car usage, supports transit ridership, and
improves air quality…;
mixed-use development increases the likelihood of
locating healthy food and retail within neighborhoods while also encouraging
walking as a mode of transportation…”
With the caveat that this
is neither an exhaustive, nor a critical view of the city, here are a few positive examples and some
1. Multi-use development in the urban center, and even in many suburban communities is mostly the norm, with co-location of businesses, housing, parks, and other recreational public spaces. There are pretty nice parks in both high and low-income neighborhoods. The Spanish tradition of daily walking and socializing out-of-doors is supported (mutually reinforcing attributes?) by having so many destinations within walking distance, including restored historic buildings, places of worship, art venues, restaurants, shops and farmers’ markets. Valencia’s central market is incredible - one of Europe’s oldest and biggest – here’s a fun video from the market of an orchestrated flash mob.
|"Virgin Plaza" - a sort of living room for the city|
|Bus stop palm|
2. Food venues offer fresh fruit, vegetables, fish. Even lots of the fast food is comparatively healthy.
The city has
varied, accessible and convenient transport options, including… high speed
|Not gross. Delicious. What is it?|
The “ave”(bird) goes over 300 km/h (193 mph)
Bike lanes and
bike sharing are relatively recent and very popular additions.
|Slowing down to enter the station |
historic buildings means the city is more beautiful to walk through.
coastal cities, Valencia used to “turn its back on the water.” But now the waterfront and beach have been
cleaned up, and a pedestrian walkway added.
The area is reachable by tram and bus and very popular with locals and
climate allows for clothes to be dried outdoors. Almost no one uses a dryer, which
seems like a great thing for the environment, but also for relationships between neighbors, since most people live in apartments with
stacked clothes lines and you inevitably have to go fetch your clothes when
they fall on your neighbor’s line.
activity downtown and in the historic district is vibrant. One of the things that makes the city so fun
to walk around are the classic old stores that remind me of a
much earlier time in the US, when small family-owned businesses were the
norm. It’s changing fast, but in
Valencia you can still find sewing
supply stores that sell buttons, ribbon and thread; glove shops, hat makers,
taxidermists, fan shops and locksmiths.
|I cheated, this one is Segovia |