Walkable Brisbane beckons on-foot explorers

LISTENING to author and city planner Jeff Speck on Radio National last month talking about walkable cities had us wondering just how walker-friendly our lovely city of Brisbane is. With its one-way streets, parks and glorious riverside, it looks to be a walker's paradise.

According to Mr Speck, who advocates internationally for smart growth and sustainable design, a walkable city can help save a country from obesity, and he said people who were fortunate to live in a walkable city weighed on average about 3-4kg less than those who lived in sprawling suburbs.

Brisbane local Rhonda Bannister lives in an apartment in the heart of the city. She couldn't be more citified, living on the 21st floor of a high-rise building. Yet far from making her sedentary, she said high-rise living helped her to walk more without realising she was doing it for the exercise.

A lovely walk Rhonda enjoys is around the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, across the river to Southbank and then around Southbank's Cultural Centre down to West End.

"These walks are easily achievable for seniors," Rhonda (in her 60s) said. "We walk to Eagle Street Pier as well. Walking in the city is delightful."

For the inexperienced city walker, there is the excellent organisation Brisbane Greeters, run by Brisbane Marketing, which will welcome locals as well as visitors to walk along with them, and the service is free.

The Greeters, all local volunteers, go out walking every day, showing the highlights of Brisbane - their personal favourite spots that appeal to locals as well as visitors. They offer a variety of walks through the city, the Botanic Gardens, Eagle Street Pier and the Roma Street Parklands.

Themed walks are easily organised for those interested in history, culture, botany, indigenous history, entertainment or specific sections of the city such as Chinatown. You can go along as a single walker or get a small group together.

If Brisbane is a walkable city, it's also a cyclable city.

If you don't own a bike, CityCycle bike hire means you can pick up and drop off a bike anywhere in the city.

Brisbane City Council has a Cycling in Brisbane program with free membership to guide you if you've never been on a bike before or to help build confidence and learn etiquette skills if it's been a while since you pedalled.

More information at www.visitbrisbane.com. au/brisbane-greeters or www.citycycle.com.au.

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