An individual's walking speed is determined by several factors ranging from personal ones, such as age, gender, health, mood etc., to cultural ones, such as country or size of the city. In empirical studies, walking speed is often regarded as one indicator of the speed of life. Early studies from the 1970s revealed a link between the average walking speed and the number of inhabitants; i.e., the more inhabitants a city has, the higher their average walking speed. Levine developed the concept of "Type-A-Cities" which are characterised by large size, high speed, mild climate, high gross domestic product, specific cultural values ... and higher rates of coronary heart disease (Morgenroth, 2008).
Richard Wiseman's study of 32 cities ranks Singapore first place (10.55 seconds for 60 feet/about 20 metres), followed by Copenhagen (10.82s), Madrid (10.89s), Guangzhou (10.94s), Dublin (11.03s), Curitiba (11.13s), Berlin (11.16s), New York (12s), Utrecht (12.04s) and Vienna (12.06s). The Swiss city of Bern is on place 30 (17.37s), followed by Maname in Bahrain (17.69s) and Blantyre in Malawi (31.60s) (via). Bern has the image of being comparably more "slow-paced" than other Swiss cities. A comparison between Zürich and Bern shows that on average people in Zürich walk 5.3 metres more per minute than those in Bern (via). Morgenroth's study of 20 German cities carried out in 2003 ranks Hannover (5.38 km/h) first place and Trier (4.97 km/h) last. One interpretation of the results the authors offer - on the basis of Max Weber's (controversially discussed) concept of the "Protestant Work Ethic" and its closer link to capitalism - is that cities with a higher percentage of Protestant inhabitants have a higher walking speed than "Catholic cities" (via).
::: Daniel Koren's beautiful Walking Contest: watch
- Morgenroth, O. (2008) Zeit und Handeln: Psychologie der Zeitbewältigung. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer
- photographs by Vivian Maier (1926-2009) via and via and via