My experience with walking London & Barcelona

1)The quality of sidewalks in London I thought was pretty good. There were some places that the sidewalk was cracked and bending, which needs to be repaired in order for the sidewalks to be utilized. The many streets of London were both designed for cars and for people, but I would say that there were quite a few pedestrian only walkways that made it relatively easy to get around the city. In Barcelona, I think that the city has really deigned itself so that walking on sidewalks is the only way to walk anywhere…meaning that sidewalks are everywhere and they coincide easily with the streets. The sidewalks in Barcelona make it rather easy for large groups to move in both directions, whereas in London, they were quite narrow and small. In some places in London, I encountered regions with no sidewalks or crosswalks, but this didn’t happen in Barcelona. The streets are designed more for people in Barcelona than they are in London. Overall, I would give London an 8 because the quality wasn’t that great, and I would give Barcelona a 10 because their sidewalks seem really well kept and the streets are meant to be walked on.

2)While in Barcelona I haven’t encountered an intersection WITHOUT a crosswalk or crossing sign, which is really safe to me. In London there were quite a few…but they weren’t at every intersection. The problem with Barcelona compared to London is that there is a much greater risk of pickpockets which can really bring the safety level for the streets of Barcelona. This also correlates with the Walkability article in our course reader. In it, it says that “walkability can have positive implications for cognitive health”….but in Barcelona I would almost argue that it could be the opposite (Florida). Worrying about getting stolen from all of the time could have negative effects on someones health, but people may just get used to living this way eventually. Overall, I would give Barcelona a 9 for safety (because of the pickpockets) and a 7 to London, because crossing a street there seemed a lot more hazardous than in most places that I’ve been to.

3)In Barcelona, crossing the street is pretty easy. The street crossing signs are literally everywhere, even on side roads. The major roads are pretty large however…which means you have around 3 or 4 crossing signal signs, but it’s still pretty easy to get across. In London though I didn’t feel that crosswalk signs were as frequent, so crossing the street was much more difficult than here in Barcelona. Overall, I would give Barcelona a 9 and London an 8.

4)Public transportation is a HUGE deal for both of these cities. They both stretch far and wide and public transportation is extremely necessary. London, by far, contained my favorite transportation system. The Tube was REALLY easy to use and really easy to navigate, and the underground stations were really easy to find. In Barcelona, the system is lacking compared to the Tube in my opinion. The walking distance is also relatively good, but not as good as London. Another thing that I don’t really like is how far away each train is from one another in the stations themselves; getting off of a train and transferring to another in the same station takes far longer than it did in London. Overall, Barcelona gets a 8 for distance and ease of walking and London gets a 10, because it was just incredibly easy to use.

5)In Barcelona, I’ve only encountered a couple of convenience/grocery stores around/near the hostel. They are both on the same road as our hostel and only about a 5 to 10 minute walk in either direction which is really convenient. In London, a market was only 2 streets over and there were a ton of them. It was VERY easy to access them here. Overall I would say that walking to a grocery store in both London and Barcelona deserves a 9 on the walkability scale; not a 10 simply because they weren’t closer.

6)London, as I’ve stated above, we were located only 2 streets away and there were a ton of different options and malls. In Barcelona, our hostel is close to one of the biggest shopping districts…but it is still far away. To get to this food/shopping district, it’s about a 15 to 20 minute walk, which is quite a long time compared to the 5 minute walk it would talk from the hostel in London to get to a restaurant. Because of the distance, I would give the walkability score of a 7 to Barcelona and a 10 to London.

7)From our hostel in London, there were a TON of green spaces that were could get to easily. Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens were literally only across the road from our street. We could easily access these parks, as well as other green spaces. Barcelona is definitely different in this aspect. We went to a “park” our first day here…but there was no green, it was all sand/dirt….definitely not something I would willingly walk to again, even though it is really close to the hostel. This park is one of the only parks/spaces that I’ve seen…beside the green areas in the middle of large road ways that line the bike/pedestrian paths. I would give the access/ease of walking to parks in London a 10, because they were everywhere. For Barcelona, I would give this city a 5, because I’ve seen some green…but not a lot.

Overall, I think that although it is extremely easy to walk on sidewalks and in pedestrian zones in Barcelona, London was a far better city in terms of ease of access to important things like green space, restaurants, public transportation, etc. Even though there weren’t as many crosswalks and the sidewalks were narrow, I still enjoyed walking around this city more than Barcelona.

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