Suzanne Audrey is Senior Research Fellow in Public Health at the University of Bristol and is interested in walking as an egalitarian and healthy mode of transport. She is co-lead of SHINE – a Bristol Health Partners health integration team with the aim of supporting healthy, inclusive neighbourhood environments. Suzanne is a founder member of Bristol Walking Alliance which campaigns for a pedestrian environment that is welcoming, safe, convenient, and inclusive.
What were your walking habits/levels pre-lockdowns?
Walking is my main form of transport and before lock-down I regularly walked from Totterdown to Clifton for work, as well as walking for pleasure.
Have you increased the amount/distance you walk since lockdowns started?
Not really because I’m no longer walking to work. But I’ve been walking to different places – parks and green spaces I haven’t visited before, and generally exploring the city.
What role has walking played in your lockdown?
Probably keeping me sane! Going out for a walk is a real pleasure for me. I live very close to the beautiful Victoria Park, Bedminster. When we were told to stay close to home, the park was the natural place to walk. It also gave an opportunity to see neighbours out walking and, although we had to maintain social distancing, it was possible to smile and say hello.
What’s your favourite route to walk? And why?
I don’t have a favourite route. I love my local park and can be seen walking there most days. But in the city, and in the different neighbourhoods that make up Bristol, I prefer to wander. If an alleyway looks interesting, I like to go down it. If I hear interesting music, I like to find out where it is coming from.
Podcast, music or peace and quiet when walking?
None of those! I don’t listen to podcasts or music when I’m walking, but I listen to the noises around me – birds, animals, traffic, music, people talking to each other or to me. When you are walking there is an opportunity to interact with people, to smile and exchange remarks with strangers – for some it may even be the only conversation they have that day.
Will you maintain walking post-lockdown?
Yes. As I get older and do less paid work, I have more opportunity to be a flaneuse – a woman who gets to know the city by wandering the streets. That suits me fine.