Slow Cities

Slow Cities

Conquering our Speed Addiction for Health and Sustainability

1st Edition - June 17, 2020

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  • Authors: Paul Tranter, Rodney Tolley
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128153161
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128153178

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Slow Cities: Conquering Our Speed Addiction for Health and Sustainability demonstrates, counterintuitively, that reducing the speed of travel within cities saves time for residents and creates more sustainable, liveable, prosperous and healthy environments. This book examines the ways individuals and societies became dependent on transport modes that required investment in speed. Using research from multiple disciplinary perspectives, the book demonstrates ways in which human, economic and environmental health are improved with a slowing of city transport. It identifies effective methods, strategies and policies for decreasing the speed of motorised traffic and encouraging a modal shift to walking, cycling and public transport. This book also offers a holistic assessment of the impact of speed on daily behaviours and life choices, and shows how a move to slow down will - perhaps surprisingly - increase accessibility to the city services and activities that support healthy, sustainable lives and cities.

Key Features

  • Includes cases from cities in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australasia
  • Uses evidence-based research to support arguments about the benefits of slowing city transport
  • Adopts a broad view of health, including the health of individuals, neighbourhoods and communities as well as economic health and environmental health
  • Includes text boxes, diagrams and photos illustrating the slowing of transport in cities throughout the world, and a list of references including both academic sources and valuable websites


Researchers, practitioners, policy makers and graduate students in Urban Transportation and Planning, Geography, Economics and Management, Public and Environmental Health, Sustainable Futures, and Urban Design, as well as concerned citizens with an interest in health and sustainability.

Table of Contents

  • Part 1: Speed
    1. Introduction: changing cultures of speed
    2. The benefits of speed for individuals: real or illusory?
    3. The benefits of speed for economy and society: Challenging the dominant narrative
    4. The ‘slow paradox’: how speed steals our time

    Part 2: Health
    5. Keeping the doctor away: Promoting human health through slower travel
    6. Advancing environmental health in future ‘slow cities
    7. Slower, richer, fairer: better economic health in ‘slow cities’

    Part 3: Strategies
    8. Hit the brakes: slowing existing motorised traffic
    9. Slow modes, slow design, slow spaces: new goals for traffic management and planning
    10. A new vision for the city: transforming behaviours, values and cultures
    11. Conclusion: re-imagining the city for a healthier future

Product details

  • No. of pages: 422
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Elsevier 2020
  • Published: June 17, 2020
  • Imprint: Elsevier
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128153161
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128153178

About the Authors

Paul Tranter

Paul is an Honorary Associate Professor of Geography in the School of Science at UNSW Canberra, Australia, where his research focuses on two critical and related issues for modern cities: children’s well-being and the dominance of speed and mobility in urban planning and society. His research demonstrates that child-friendly modes (walking, cycling and public transport) are also the modes that (paradoxically) reduce time pressure for urban residents. He co-authored Children and Their Urban Environment: Changing Worlds (Routledge, 2011), and co-edited Risk, Protection, Provision and Policy, Volume 12 in Geographies of Children and Young People (Springer, 2017).

Affiliations and Expertise

Honorary Associate Professor of Geography, School of Science at UNSW Canberra, Australia

Rodney Tolley

Rodney Tolley has researched and written in the field of active, sustainable transport for over 40 years. He was Reader in Geography at Staffordshire University in the UK until 2004, and is now the Conference Director of Walk21, a global partnership of walking researchers and practitioners. He is the Founding Director of Rodney Tolley Walks and is an experienced international speaker and consultant. He makes time to walk every day.

Affiliations and Expertise

Director, WALK21 and Honorary Research Fellow, Staffordshire University, UK

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  • Mark C. Tue Jun 23 2020

    Slow Cities: Conquering our Speed Addiction for Health and Sustainability

    Slow your city, enrich your life Two days after I had moved to California, I saw an easy way to cross the street, thus avoiding two blocks of back-and-forth walking. No cars to my left, no cars right, I crossed. A policeman got out of his squad car, motioned me to approach, and then informed me that I had just “jaywalked”. I had moved to LA from one of those rare places where the street is for gathering, walking, cycling and even playing, with motorists that enter knowing they must slow down. The cop didn’t care about this argument. Either I could sign to pay a fine or take it to court. I decided to pay. If Paul Tranter’s and Rodney Tolley’s Slow Cities: Conquering our Speed Addiction for Health and Sustainability had existed at the time, I would have decided to take it to court, and I would have won. I would have learned that the “motordom” lobby had transformed cities around the world into clogged automobile circulatory systems, where “streets were redefined as places where people walking, particularly children, did not belong.” I would have lectured the judge that my case was the example of the “slow paradox” (Tranter, Tolley chapter 4) of how speed steals our time, as did the speed for automobiles on the street I crossed illegally. The authors have extraordinary multi-disciplinary credentials which help us experience the history, geography, culture, ecology, philosophy, planning and designing of the great humane places that cities around the world can become, are becoming or still renege against becoming. Their concept of “effective speed”, how a commuter can actually save time by ditching the car and taking the bike, is touted as “counter-intuitive” but in fact, it is the system that car-centered cities have in place that goes against the grain of common sense, health and the environment. With a wealth of sources, revealing graphs and stunning photos, “Slow Cities” will be a fast course for city urban planning practitioners and grad students in urban transportation and planning. But it’s also a great tool for people like me to take before the judge in order to defend the rights of pedestrians, cyclists, users of public transportation, children, seniors and citizens around the world. (Full disclosure: as a writer and activist on urban quality of life, I received a review copy from the authors. I had read their earlier work and was predisposed to like this book, but it has far surpassed my expectations.)