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CLARIN

A City Should Force You Off Your Arse

After hundreds of years of reducing our physical activity with the help of machines, we now find we need to move to remain healthy. A friendly city is one that forces you to walk more.

Walking in Buenos Aires
Walking in Buenos Aires
Miguel Jurado

-Essay-

BUENOS AIRES — Since the time Homo became sapiens, we have tried to find the means to move as little as possible. And now we can say we have almost triumphed: Our entire lives are organized so we do not have to take that butt off the seat. We can do almost anything by looking at the computer screen, sitting in a car or traveling by bus. And when we get home, it's not long before we're slouched in front of the television. Then, if we go out with friends, we sit back down around a table or settle into armchairs.

In the 21st century, we have fulfilled the dreams of thousands of generations of our forebears. But being sedentary goes against our nature, and we are paying the price with our health.

For Denmark's Jan Gehl, who is a sort of planning celebrity, the solution is in, well, planning — the type of city planning that focuses less on the physical cityscape and more on people's well-being. Gehl says that's why cities such as Copenhaguen, Melbourne, Sidney, New York and Vancouver are starting to act — so people will walk and use bicycles as much as possible.

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In The News

War In Ukraine, Day 112: Russians Try To Repeat Mariupol Playbook In Severodonetsk

Russians are besieging Severodonetsk, the eastern Ukrainian city, and urging troops there to surrender as they offer a shaky evacuation corridor for civilians. The siege and symbolism recalls the siege of Mariupol, which didn't end well for Ukrainians.

A Russian earlier this week at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, which is now occupied by Moscow's forces

Vladimir Gerdo/TASS via ZUMA
Irene Caselli, Shaun Lavelle, Anna Akage and Emma Albright

In a two-sided move that eerily recalls the tragic events in the southern port city of Mariupol, Russia has urged Ukrainian troops to surrender in Severodonetsk, the eastern Ukrainian city where fighting is raging, while at the same time pledging to spend the day evacuating civilians.

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Severodonetsk, in Luhansk region, has assumed a symbolic weight in the war as Russia focused on trying to win over control of Donbas and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky repeating that it is a “decisive” battleground. Russian troops have encircled the city over the past few weeks, trying to take it back from Ukrainian forces that had taken control in 2014 from pro-Russian separatists.

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