Welcoming Toronto & Bogotá Correspondent Carlos Ruiz!
In January 2022 we launched the Global Walkability Correspondents Network, as a way to build solidarity among walkability advocates around the world and continue to create media on sustainable mobility and urbanism.
We are happy to welcome Toronto-based Carlos to our growing network of individuals who are passionate walkability advocates.
I have an academic background in Political Science and Philosophy. During my working years, I have had many different roles including legal assistant, reporter and customer service, but the most rewarding work experience that I’ve had was being a primary school teacher. It was during this time that I understood that our minds are very malleable and that through education, our beliefs and behaviors can be transformed in a positive way. I believe we need to use the power of education and advocacy to contribute to the change our cities and our planet so desperately need and a big part of that change is walkability.
Throughout my life, I’ve had the opportunity to live in very different places. I was born and raised in Bucaramanga, Colombia and during my childhood, I lived in Caracas, Venezuela for a couple of years. After graduating high school at age 18, I moved to Bogota, Colombia and lived there for two years. I then moved to Nashville, Tennessee in the U.S for three years before moving to Fort Myers, Florida for another three years. I finally moved to Toronto, Canada where I currently live.
As a Walkability Correspondent, I will be representing Toronto and Bogota, two cities with vast differences but also a lot of similarities. Toronto is one of the most walkable cities in North America and has a public transit system with relatively good coverage. Being the economic hub of Canada, Toronto is a busy and modern metropolis that attracts millions of daily commuters from the surrounding car-dependent suburbs and towns creating endless traffic jams on the main streets and highways.
Other challenges Toronto faces include the incredibly high cost of living and gentrification that pushes lower-income residents out to less dense and more car-dependent neighborhoods.
Also, as a winter city, sidewalks and bike lanes are often neglected when it comes to snow removal as priority is given to highways and roads. I will be highlighting these and other issues in the future.
Walking has always been a part of my life. As a kid I used to walk to school every day and growing up, car dependency was not a problem I had. Walking and public transit were my main ways of mobility until I moved to the U.S where, in many places, you must own a car if you want to have a life. That cultural shock introduced me to the concept of walkability and made me more aware of the importance walking has for physical, mental and environmental health.
Walkability aligns with my beliefs and values and I think of pedestrian and public spaces as a reflection of democracy. That is why I think there is still a lot of work to be done if we want to live in a healthy, sustainable and democratic environment and walkability advocacy can help us get there.
Carlos is an avid walker and cycling enthusiast based in Toronto, Canada. With a background in Political Science and teaching, he believes walkable cities play a vital role in the development of local economies, the environment and public health as well as contributing to the strengthening of democratic values. Carlos is a strong advocate of changing the car-centric culture of North America and strongly believes in education as the most important tool for positive change.
Read Toronto & Bogotá Correspondent Carlos’ content here
Learn more about the Global Walkability Correspondents Network here