Urban density is commonly identified as factor that contributes to active transport, including walking, across all age groups. While a significant body of literature explores the factors that influence the likelihood of walking for commuting, leisure and or strolling, the experiences of residents in rapidly densifying outer suburbs have been much less well considered. Recovering these experiences is important as factors influencing walking – such as greenspace, leafiness and quieter streetscapes- are unevenly available and often shaped by wealth effects. However, investment-driven densification continues regardless across Australia’s eastern cities with little understanding of whether (and how) residents negotiate and practice active mobilities in these rapidly densifying spaces.
Drawing on a sub-set of interviews and neighbourhood tours with apartment dwellers who live in the Central Business District (CBD) of Liverpool, Sydney, Australia, this paper highlights a set of established and emergent walking practices in Sydney’s Western Cities. While revealing established and emerging practices of ‘walkability’ within the CBD, these journeys are also shaped by car-dependency, violence/aggression and services gaps that intersect to restrict ‘walkability’.
The paper concludes by advocating incremental diversification of transport infrastructure along with gender-transport audits to support the emergent practical and social accomplishment of walking in the post-suburban city. It also highlights the importance of engaging with the lived and embodied experiences of those negotiating suburban transformation to ensure urban design and planning policies leverage residents’ knowledge base as a resource.