Let’s make Helsinki the walking capital of the world

British wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas is known for his amazing animal photos. He has photographed wild animals in countries such as Zambia, Namibia and Tanzania. In April, he spent two days photographing pedestrians in the Helsinki region. The shoots are part of HSL’s and the Helsinki region municipalities’ joint goal of turning the metropolitan area into the walking capital of the world.

Walking as part of HSL’s strategy

HSL wants to encourage everyone in the metropolitan area to walk more. Walking brings cities to life and supports citizens’ physical and mental wellbeing. Walking is also a fundamental aspect of using public transport and an important element in urban trip chains. “Walking has significant effects on people’s health and attractiveness of cities, as well as on emissions and air quality. The Helsinki region provides safe and convenient opportunities for walking. There is high potential for walking and HSL’s goal is ambitious: we want to make Helsinki region the walking capital of the world,” says Senior Advisor Tarja Jääskeläinen from HSL.

A recently published analysis coordinated by the UKK Institute shows that immobility – a low level of physical activity, a lot of sitting, and poor physical condition – cause at least EUR 3 billion in costs for Finnish society every year. Only about one third of children and young people, less than one fifth of adults and only a few percents of elderly people meet the recommendations for physical activity. People spent most of their time awake sitting. Some people do not perform any physical activity.

Most people could easily add exercise to their daily lives. You can walk or cycle to work, school or shops, etc. You can walk all the way or part of your journey. You can also combine walking and public transport. Many of the journeys made by car are short journeys of 1-2 kilometers, that could easily be walked.

Are you the one moving around like a slender legged giraffe?

“Some people walk like giraffes with long strides, other people with shorter steps like hippos,” says Will Burrard-Lucas when describing people’s walking styles.

“When we asked Burrard-Lucas to photograph people, he was at first confused. He noted, however, that any activity that we can do that reduces carbon emissions or improves air quality, however small, is worthwhile to do. It is important to get people a trigger to stop and think about their choices. We at HSL strive to make a difference by promoting zero-emission mobility,” says Mari Flink, HSL’s Director of Customer Experience and Sales.

“I am a great advocate of walking. When I am not in the wild photographing animals, I spend long days sat in front of a computer and so the chance to stretch my legs and get some exercise is always welcome. Whenever possible, I would prefer to walk rather than travel by underground, taxi or bus. Not only is walking my favorite way to explore and experience a city, it is also a time when I can get lost in my own thoughts. Of course, as a wildlife photographer, the environment is also an important consideration for me,” says Burrard-Lucas.

Burrard-Lucas chose the hundred best photos of the feet that passed him by. They are published on HSL’s Instagram account, five photos every Monday:


His wildlife photos can be found on his website, www.burrard-lucas.com, or on Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/willbl/?hl=fi.

HSL is the competent authority responsible for the development of the transport system across the Helsinki region, including the sustainable development of public transport, walking, cycling and driving to support the region’s goals.