Category Archives: Activist

Interviews with walking activists

Terence Bendixson talking walking

Terence Bendixson, journalist and author, is probably the longest serving campaigner for pedestrians  throughout the world, and is now the President of Living Streets in the UK, the charity formerly known as the Pedestrian’s Association.  He was recruited to the cause in the 1960s by Tom Foley, the Association’s co-founder, after an article he had written in the Guardian about the dominance of cars in our cities and towns. He his a strong believer in encouraging people to walk their daily errands, being aware of how street pattern and layout can influence travel behaviour and enhance or limit the experience of travel on foot.  He has lived almost all his life in Chelsea, now a prized neighbourhood of London, our conversation takes place there one sunny morning along roads he has walked since he was eleven.26’34” 12.5MB

Download notes of items mentioned in the interview with Terence_Bendixson

8 Breaths talking walking

8 Breaths Oxford is produced by Katherine McGavin and Mariana Galan Tanes

8 Breaths participants don masks as Mariana talks about air quality.

Air quality is an issue which is grabbing media interest both here in London and elsewhere.  It is a nebulous, hard to grasp concept, and leaves many of us disempowered – what simple actions can we do to improve the air we breathe?  Katherine McGavin and Mariana Galan Tanes, are two post-graduates studying social sculpture at Oxford Brookes University who have come up with an imaginative, entertaining and thought-provoking way to get us more engaged.

It is an inter-active walking tour of Oxford in 8 Breaths, in which you travel in time and place to discover more about the air we breathe, as well as being a call to personal action.  Andrew Stuck joined a group of twenty on the inaugural 8 Breaths tour at the beginning of July 2017 and spoke to Kat and Mariana immediately afterwards, recording the interview on a busy street corner surrounded by passing tourists. 16′ 34″ 7.8MB

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Want to join an 8 Breaths tour? – click here for more details.

Kristie Daniel talking walking

Kristie Daniel

Kristie Daniel

Kristie Daniel is Programme Director for the Liveable Cities Programme delivered by Healthbridge a Canadian NGO. healthbridge-logo Healthbridge were multi-award winners in the 2015 Walk21 Visionary Awards, for projects in developing countries in Asia and Africa, where they are working with local groups to create public spaces and improve non-motorised access to them.

Andrew Stuck, producer of Talking Walking, caught up with Kristie as she stopped over in London, on a journey from Toronto to Bangkok. The interview was recorded in March 2016 on a walk through Margravine Cemetery, a popular public space in Hammersmith, beneath the flight path to and from Heathrow. 26’22” 12.4MB

Download notes from the podcast interview with Kristie_Daniel

What has happened since the interview

“Since the interview was recorded, we have continued to work on all the great projects that I spoke about in the interview.  The HoiAn Master Plan is currently being implemented.  The city has planned for 79 new parks that are within walking distance of residents.  The city has thus far achieved 40% of that targeted number of parks.  In Kathmandu, the success of Ktm Walks has lead to the creation of a one kilometre permanent pedestrian space in Thamel.  This was a huge success for the local project.

In addition, we have been able to greatly expand our projects in Africa thanks to a grant from UN-Habitat.  In Africa—like in many other places in the world—public spaces are used for public life, commerce and interaction. However, lack of funds, planning, and maintenance, as well as priority for motorized vehicles, has turned many public spaces into unsafe, unforgiving and unconnected places. Many public spaces are difficult to access, especially for those living in vulnerable situations.

This is especially the case in Kampala, Uganda, Niamey, Niger and Accra, Ghana. There is a significant lack of formal public spaces in each of these cities, particularly in the outlying areas where the slum settlements are located. Of those spaces that do exist, they are degraded, of poor quality, and under constant threat of being developed into other purposes.

To address this issue, HealthBridge is working with local partners to  implement pilot public space projects in Kampala, Niamey, and Accra.  These spaces will improve local policies, plans and designs for safe, inclusive and accessible public spaces.  The final results of this project should be available in May.”

Diana Wesser talking walking


DWARThe Leipzig City Quarter Expeditions is an intriguing walking art project which debunks prejudices about urban neighbourhoods – we all have heard of a notorious neighbourhood in one or other city, and Leipzig’s Eisenbahnstrasse had notched up infamy as “The worst street in Germany.” Diana Wesser and collaborator Antje Rademacker, both living in Leipzig devised a project in which residents of such neighbourhoods had a chance to tell their stories about living in these places, revealing just how different actuality is from perception.

Photo credit: D Wesser

Photo credit: D Wesser


Photo credit: D Wesser

Photo credit: D Wesser





Baking and exchanging cakes are key to residents collecting and sharing stories about where they live – so entranced were some that they openly invited visitors into their homes, workplaces and lives.

The interview is recorded at the Vienna Walk 21 Conference in October 2015, at which Diana collected a Visionary Award.  21’10” 9.9MB

Download notes from the podcast interview with Diana_Wesser

Dieter Schwab talking walking


Austria is the first country in Europe, if not in the world, to have a National masterplan strategy toMasterplan-grab promote walking.  This has come about in a remarkably short time.  It is a little over 8 years since Vienna resident Dieter Schwab formed the Austrian Pedestrian Organisation, to rally supporters in every echelon of government, to plan how they could put the pedestrian first in their strategic plans and policies.

Speaking to Andrew Stuck during the 2015 Walk21 conference, from the Rathuas in Vienna, Dieter begins the interview by explaining just how rewarding living in an inner city walkable neighbourhood can be.  10.1MB 21’48”

Download notes from the interview with: DieterSchwab

Listen to Dieter’s 5 year walking forecast made in December 2013.

David Watson talking walking


David Watson is an Australian photomedia artist and writer intrigued by ‘progress’. In 2012 he completed Wild Ryde, a doctorate fuelled by the ‘findings’ of a slow, six-year walking and swimming pilgrimage across suburban Sydney:  He currently works with a collective of environmentally-concerned contemporary artists opposing new coal mining and CSG fracking in New South Wales.  He has always considered himself a street artist. First in London in the 80s when he lived in a housing cooperative in New Cross, and then in Bethnel Green. On weekends he would comb the London A-Z by bicycle with his trusty Olympus OM-1, seeking out forgotten corners, layered textures and colonial echoes.

Latterly he has been walking the streets through the suburbs of Sydney to capture memories.  DCIM100GOPROIn 2005 he determined to walk west from his home in urban Rozelle following the spine of Victoria Road, a major artery, out of the city. Over two years and 19 walks his path led inexorably to his childhood home in suburban Dundas, where his elderly, now-ailing parents had lived for 60 years, looking out to the Blue Mountains. Although less than ten miles as the crow flies, David’s serendipitous, looping route covered perhaps 100 miles of concrete, bitumen and harbour-shore. When he reached his destination, he chose to swim back, along the Parramatta river to Sydney.

This interview was recorded on a blustery day in October 2014 while on a walk through Greenwich Park, London.

Download notes of items mentioned in the interview with David_Watson

Matt Tomasulo talking walking


How long does it take to walk from here to there? is a fairly straightforward question that crops up often enough.  Providing duration times of journeys on foot, was the common sense answer that came to urban planning student and would-be pedestrian activist, Matt Tomasulo, from Raleigh, North Carolina in the southern United States.  His answer to this common question was to devise a set of signs that not only gave direction but duration for journeys on foot, and set about putting them up around Raleigh.  What if these guerilla signs could be made available to anyone, anywhere?  What if anyone could make some of their own?

WYC_MG_8392Using Kickstarter, the crowd funding website to raise funds and spread the word, Matt created the web-based Walk [Your City] app. We in the UK maybe more reticent about putting up signs around our towns, but it appears less so in north America, with not only citizens but towns and city leaders making signs of their own, to Walk their City.  The interview, recorded over the Internet, opens with Matt explaining what is Walk [Your City]. 25’46” 12.1MB

Download notes of items mentioned in the  interview with Matt_Tomasulo

Photo credits: Walk your City

Rowena Macaulay talking walking


Co-founder of Walk ColchesterRowena Macaulay is a chair user, passionate ‘walker’ and community champion. Although becoming paralysed some 15 years ago, her enthusiasm for getting out and about, and encouraging others to do the same, has not been dampened.  The topics in our conversation range widely, from the language of walking in the context of disability, to inclusive perspectives on access to the countryside, and the relative merits of mapping and photography as information supporting walking. We chat about how she came to devise a campus map for the University of Essex, how this led her to work on a ground-breaking 3D digital journey planner, led by local company Smart Networked Environments, that provides accessible route information both outside and within buildings. Drawing on her own research as a former student in Inclusive Design, she is currently developing phototrails as guides to accessible countryside routes, aimed at boosting the confidence of walkers new to an area.  Rowena also champions walk leader volunteering, by bringing commemorative walks celebrating the life and work of North American urbanist, Jane Jacobs, to Colchester each May. 33’54” 15.9MB

Download notes from the interview with Rowena_Macaulay

Lottie Child – talking walking


Lottie Child, a participatory performance artist who has devised “Street Training”, in which adults and young people learn how to be more playful in our streets. Through Street Training participants, young and old, learn how to let go of the social mores, testing the confines of what is considered normal behaviour in our cities and streets.  Lottie has helped the Metropolitan Police, amongst others, to have a better understanding of young people’s desire to play. 20′ 29″ 9.6MB

Download items mentioned in this interview with Lottie_Child

Graham Stevens talking walking


Photo credits: Andrew Tweedie

Graham Stevens an environmental scientist, avant garde artist and inventor walks the Robert Hooke trail as part of the “Freshwater Dialogues” for Dimbola on the Isle of Wight in September 2010. 19’56” 9.4 MB

Download notes of items mentioned in this episode: Graham_Stevens

Photo credits: Andrew Tweedie

Len Banister talking walking


Len Banister, former Founder member and chair of the Greater London Ramblers’ Forum, and a prolific walk route deviser and author, accompanies Andrew Stuck on a walk through Walthamstow.

Recorded October, 2010 Published November 2011 20’08” 9.5 MB
Download notes of items mentioned in this episode: Len Banister


What has Len been doing since our interview:

“Since we last spoke, although I have continued writing walks – particularly for magazines, I have ceased working for the Greater London Ramblers’ Forum.  The Ramblers‘ work in London has become increasingly difficult for two reasons:

  • The responsibility for the upkeep of the Strategic Paths has reverted to the Boroughs which results in the need for complex negotiation, time consuming monitoring, and the difficulty involved in the identification of anyone within the authority willing to take responsibility.
  • The paradox that most Ramblers’ organised walking in London is enjoyed by those on the periphery of the Capital whilst those members living centrally, because of better transport networks, tend to walk more regularly in the countryside.

I now give talks to other organisations on the history of the Ramblers and have responsibility for Rights of Way Liaison in Essex.  In this latter role I have been setting up volunteer groups across the county which take responsibility for clearing, signing, and maintaining path furniture.

I’ve just had an experience which might be worth relating.  At the very end of November, I entered hospital for open-heart surgery to replace a heart valve and insert two bi-passes.  I am now back walking 5 or six miles a day with every prospect of returning to 12-mile outings in 2 or 3 months’ time.  My reason for mentioning this is that my consultant attributes my fast recovery to my walking history.

I’ve just written a walk over the Walthamstow Wetlands…it may yet appear in Country Walking Magazine.”

Fran Crowe talking walking


Fran Crowe has been collecting 46,000 pieces of plastic that have been washed up on the beach near Thorpeness in Suffolk – she goes out for walks each day to collect the detritus of our modern world.

“My walking has been the inspiration for my last 12 years’ work as an artist – it’s amazing to think it all started just because of the plastic objects that I saw whilst walking on my local beach. I never would’ve guessed where a washed-up piece of plastic debris would lead!”

Andrew Stuck from the Museum of Walking joins her on a walk along the shingle beach as she goes prospecting. Recorded August 2010. 20’02” 9.4MB

Download notes of items mentioned in this episode: Fran_Crowe

What Fran has been doing since our interview

“Since her interview, Fran has exhibited widely both here and overseas, including as part of the acclaimed GYRE exhibition, which was commissioned by the Anchorage Museum in Alaska and toured in the USA 2014/15.

One of Fran’s walks on Orford Ness was featured on BBC Coast in 2015.

In 2014 Fran launched the Museum of Beyond, a provocative and tongue-in-cheek imagining of what people might think of our plastic waste still washing up on beaches in a future beyond oil:  “a sea of plastic seen through future eyes”… Described by visitors as “absolutely mind-blowing” and “extraordinary and moving”, the Museum uses humour to deliver a powerful message about the way we live now.

Recently Fran created a ‘roaming gallery’ in a lovingly restored vintage horsebox.
The gallery features The Museum of Beyond including many of the plastic items that Fran has found on her walks. For news of where the gallery will be popping up next and to browse the museum’s collections, see Fran welcomes additions to the museum – so if you find something interesting whilst walking on the beach and would like to add it to the museum, do get in touch!

Fran is particularly interested in how creativity can be used as a catalyst for change and how it can help people (of all ages) imagine how things could be different – and better…

For more than 10 years Fran has been campaigning about the impact of plastic in our seas so is delighted that BBC’s Blue Planet 2 has succeeded in making this front page news in recent months. She hopes real change will result from this and her work on plastics will become redundant.

Research is an important part of Fran’s work. In the last two years Fran has been studying: Social Sciences and, more recently, Evolutionary Biology. Keep an eye on her website to see what direction Fran’s work takes next!”

Photo credits: Fran Crowe