Going postal

After chatting with a friend’s mother who is in town for a couple of days, I returned home thinking about a thing she mentioned in passing: “you city people are all walking so fast!”

Yes, there are actually several studies concerning themselves with establishing a measure and ranking of pedestrian walking speeds.  “The Pace of Life in 31 Countries” for example, published in 1999 by Levine and Norenzayan, sampled walking speeds, customer service times in post offices, and accuracies of public clocks in different cities. Based on those measurements they established a country-wise ranking (often using the combined results taken from large cities). The results are kind of expected: Western Europe countries and Japan make up the top ten, Austria is no. 8 on the list (but not due to our then-walking speed. Our postal service speed and our punctual clocks made us one of the winners).
Wiseman and others conducted a similar study in 2006, measuring walking speeds, showing that often walking speeds had increased, and that new countries entered the top ten list (China and Singapore very massively so) – also Vienna’s “speed” increased from 4.68km/h to 5.46km/h.
Switzerland surprisingly dropped very far from the top three to place 30 (11.8secs in 1999 vs 17.37secs in 2006; maybe they should have not only have sampled in Bern but included Zurich in the second study as well?)

Lots of room here for interpretations, one being the obvious “economic vitality” as pointed out by Levine (then again, under this assumption, what happend to Switzerland?).

But as I am not a psychologist, let alone cross-culturally so, I merely take these studies as a suggestion to actively slow down my personal speed sometimes.


Amon Tobin – Goto 10



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