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The right to walk in cities, a comparative review of Macau, Lisbon and Las Vegas

Carlos J.L. Balsas (Department of Geography and Planning, University at Albany, Albany, New York, USA)

International Journal of Law in the Built Environment

ISSN: 1756-1450

Article publication date: 10 July 2017




The purpose of this paper is to analyze walking activity and recent efforts at augmenting walkability conditions in the cities of Macau, Lisbon and Las Vegas.


The methodology consisted mostly of in-loco observations, pedestrian counts and extensive reviews of the literature, city plans and regulations.


The findings include the need to properly design, maintain and retrofit pedestrian facilities, while reducing safety conflicts among street users as well as the establishment and the nurturing of a culture of walking.

Research limitations/implications

A fivefold international walkability research agenda with implications for other cities around the world is established: the value and the need for comparative studies and best practices; the need for urban design interventions; the cultivation of attractiveness and aesthetics; the implementation of safety, construction and maintenance criteria; and responsible funding programs.

Practical implications

This paper has twofold implications for stakeholders with direct responsibilities in the design, planning, building and maintenance of streets and public spaces, and for those who simply use those places at their own discretion.

Social implications

A succinct set of recommendations include the need to augment endogeneity, the need to make cities for people and not for automobiles and commitment to resolving pedestrian safety concerns.


This paper discusses the factors affecting street vibrancy from both a stakeholder’s and a user’s perspective. The fundamental and inalienable right to walk is analyzed using the WPPFUS framework (walking levels, purposes, primacy of walking, facilities, unique features and safety concerns).



Earlier versions of this paper were delivered as invited talks at Colloquium and a Department-wide Lecture Series at the Department of Geography, Planning, Environment at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada, and at the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, in fall 2016. The author would like to thank the organizers for the invites as well as the participants for their challenging and thoughtful comments and suggestions.


Balsas, C.J.L. (2017), "The right to walk in cities, a comparative review of Macau, Lisbon and Las Vegas", International Journal of Law in the Built Environment, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 123-142.



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