The Great Sydney Harbour Walk, linking Bondi and Manly beaches

Monday, 27 February, 2017

Bondi to Manly walk, image by Sydney Morning Herald

The coastal walk, that spans the beaches between Bondi and Malabar, is a Sydney icon, and is popular with Sydneysiders, and visitors to the city, alike.

Depending on your walking pace, the approximately twelve and a half kilometre path could take about five hours to complete. Add an hour, by the time you’ve stopped for breaks.

Now John Faulkner, a retired Australian politician, and Lachlan Harris, a former parliamentary press secretary, have devised another, much longer, walk.

Tentatively known as the Great Sydney Walk, it connects Bondi Beach, in Sydney’s east, with Manly Beach, in Sydney’s north, and is about seventy kilometres in length.

Laced along 70 kilometres of Sydney shoreline are heritage sites, spectacular scenery, bush hideaways and beaches that have seen the Eora Nation, the arrival of the First Fleet, the building of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House.

It would probably take an average walker about a week to complete, for those wishing to break up the walk into daily ten kilometre segments.

Some work would be required to join the various accessways between Bondi and Manly, to make the path into a single track, as it were, but it’s an idea worth thinking about.

Related: , , ,

How to steal a few pages of the book you’re reading while walking

Monday, 18 June, 2012

I once managed to conceal a page-turner I was reading at work among the piles of paper on my desk and would skim read half a page at a time as I otherwise tried to look productive. While I wouldn’t recommend anyone follow my example, at least there was no risk of colliding with someone, or something, if I’d tried reading while walking.

If you must read though while on foot, en route to somewhere, it’s Lev Grossman’s advice on the matter that you should be taking:

My first move is to clamp the book under one arm, inside-out, at my current page, like a running-back with a football, so I can whip it out at a moment’s notice. Then I pick my spots. Short bursts is the approach. You look for a stretch of open sidewalk, maybe a half a block, you hastily memorize the major obstacles, and then you glance down at the book. You’re speed-reading here – you don’t so much run your eye over the page as grab the next few sentences all at once. Then the book goes back under the arm. You look up again and digest the words as you walk. You check your location and bearing, like a submarine, and you prepare to dive again. Strangers look at you a bit funny, but come on – they’re strangers. Not like the characters you’re reading about. Sure, they may be fictional, but they’re not strangers. They matter.

Don’t go trying this with the likes of Twitter and text messaging though…

Related: , ,

Streets ahead… you know when you feel that need for speed

Wednesday, 4 April, 2012

Why do people tend to walk faster in cities than in smaller towns? Aside from the fact we may feel compelled to move with haste because everyone else is, it may come down to economics. Time is money, and time spent walking is probably time that is not realising a financial return.

As one possible explanation for the relationship between city size and foot speed, the researchers suggested that economic factors might play a key role. When a city grows larger, they wrote, wage rate and cost of living increase, and with that the value of a resident’s time. As a result, “economizing on time becomes more urgent and life becomes more hurried and harried,” Walmsley and Lewis suggest.

So there you have it.

Related: , , ,

Move to the left, the wisdom of crowds of pedestrians

Tuesday, 10 January, 2012

Riddle me this. Which way do you move, when walking along a footpath, and someone else is approaching from the opposite direction on exactly the same line as you? To the left or to the right? Are these movements determined by the side of the street we drive on, or are other factors at play?

If two opposing people guess each other’s intentions correctly, each moving to one side and allowing the other past, then they are likely to choose to move the same way the next time they need to avoid a collision. The probability of a successful manoeuvre increases as more and more people adopt a bias in one direction, until the tendency sticks. Whether it’s right or left does not matter; what does is that it is the unspoken will of the majority.

Here’s something I notice a bit though. I’ll be walking a long a straight, yet narrow, otherwise deserted footpath and in the distance spot someone approaching from the opposite direction. At some point along the path – which isn’t necessarily equidistant – lies an obstruction of some sort, partially blocking the path.

Yet this is the point I consistently meet the approaching person, not before or after the location of the obstruction, but right there, at the path’s narrowest point. I’d love to hear an explanation of the physics of that phenomenon.

Related: , ,

Instant identification… I’d know that swagger anywhere

Friday, 23 September, 2011

While some people can recognise you instantly from the way you walk, even if you are somehow disguised, your gait may one day become a formal method of identification.

It seems footsteps are as unique as fingerprints, and can identify people with 99.8 per cent accuracy.

Related: , ,

Working out the walking while talking the walk?

Friday, 9 September, 2011

There’s a lot to be said for walking but how exactly do you put the process into words?

Such a simple activity, this walking, which like breathing quickly loses itself in the implicit background of human processes, but try describing how to do it to a tree or a lamppost, or some other being for whom, “lift your leg, move it forward, put it down” does not suffice, and you soon lose yourself in questions that go way deep, questions like, what is the relationship between time and space, and, where am I in relation to the body I call mine.

Related: , ,

Short, needless, elevator jaunts may one day prove embarrassing

Tuesday, 25 January, 2011

Annoyed by having your lift/elevator ride slowed down by able-bodied people who are only going up (or down) one level, and could easily have walked instead? Presenting the “double opt-in” elevator ride, which potentially shames such characters into thinking twice about such a short jaunt:

One solution that I have often yearned for is the use of public shame. Imagine you get on at the first floor and press the button for the second floor. The elevator responds with a recorded message: “You have pressed the button for a floor that is only one flight away. Please press the button again to confirm that you cannot use the stairs.” If you’re carrying a package, having trouble walking, or any other socially acceptable reason, no doubt the other passengers will think nothing of you pressing the button again to confirm your selection. However, if you are in fact an able-bodied human being, who is using the elevator out of nothing but sheer laziness, perhaps public shame will force you to reconsider your choice.

Related: , , , ,

If road rules applied to the footpath who would police them?

Wednesday, 16 June, 2010

Walking is taxing on the brain to the point that it can be a dangerous activity, and the busier the walkway, the greater the risk:

When people walk down the street, they are forced to exert cognitive control and top-down attention, and all that mental effort takes a temporary toll on their brain. Just consider everything your brain has to keep track of as you walk down a busy thoroughfare. There are the crowded sidewalks full of distracted pedestrians who have to be avoided; the hazardous crosswalks that require the brain to monitor the flow of traffic.

Maybe it’s time to consider applying road rules to pedestrians.

People should look both ways before coming out of, say, a shop door and give way to oncoming traffic (rather than assuming there’s no one else at all around).

Likewise walkers should check no one is beside them on the footpath before “changing lanes”, or abruptly veering three steps to right or left without warning (rather than assuming there’s no one else at all around).

Cognitive control seems to be less about focusing on your movements and more about second-guessing the moves of others.

Related: , , ,

Walkability, something to consider when buying in the suburbs

Wednesday, 10 June, 2009

Older suburbs tend to better for our health as they were designed to be within walking distance of shops and amenities, unlike newer residential developments which are far more “car dependent”.

They found that neighborhoods built before 1950 tended to offer greater overall walkability because they had been designed for pedestrians. Newer neighborhoods often were designed primarily to facilitate car travel, the researchers noted.

Related: , , , , , ,

City living better for your waistline than the suburbs?

Monday, 15 December, 2008

Apparently people living in urban centres are more likely to walk, rather than drive, to local shops and amenities, and this plays a part in keeping them slimmer than their suburban cousins, who are obliged to drive to reach shopping centres and the like.

“It seems that people living in purely residential areas tend to drive more and we know that people who drive more tend to be more obese,” Professor Jalaludin said. Anthony Capon, who studies the relationship between the urban environment and health at the Australian National University, agrees with the findings. “Today, people living in regional areas are less likely to walk down the road to a local shop and will more likely drive longer distances to larger shopping centres,” Professor Capon said.

Related: , , , , , , ,