Walking Around Town

Adam Taylor, Engineering a Craft Brewery Belgium Summer '22

One of my favorite things about Belgium, and Europe in general, is that their cities and towns are largely built around walking or cycling. We spent hours walking around Leuven, Brussels, Ghent, and Bruges, and it was so easy. Sure, you needed to look out for the occasional car or bike barreling down the street, but it was otherwise smooth sailing. You could see any landmark you wanted just by walking around the city.
            This is something I wish cities in America were more like. It is not exactly easy for me to walk from Oakland to downtown Pittsburgh. Say I wanted to go eat in the Cultural District of Pittsburgh. I can’t just walk there. I need to take a bus or a car. It is not exactly easy to walk from one neighborhood of really any city in the United States to the downtown section. I’m sure some exceptions exist, but it is rare nonetheless.
            However, if I want to go eat at that cool mussels place in Bruges that is downtown, I can walk straight up to it. There will be a sidewalk if need be, almost guaranteed. I am highly unlikely to have to cross any dangerous traffic patterns, too. It is just such a safer walking environment that I wish were present in the United States.
            I am well aware the reason that cities in the United States and cities in Europe differ so much is because of how and when they were built. America was built around cars and making it easy to get from one city to another while Europe was built very locally in a time when most people didn’t know how large the land was. I can talk about the differences in building materials, resources, types of transportation as well, but the gist is there already. It is a shame that the United States does not have such easy walking (or cycling as that is even worse).
            This is simply a little rant to discuss my displeasure at the lack of walking opportunities in American cities. Going from walking around the cities of Belgium to having to drive to a restaurant a quarter of a mile away has been deeply annoying. If there is anything that Belgium has truly taught me, it is that I really want to be able to walk to my favorite food options safely. It will be in the forefront of my mind when it comes to housing options in the future.