City life is getting faster. Is technology a factor?

Using residents’ walking speed as an indicator of the pace of life, British research published Wednesday ranked Singapore, Copenhagen and Madrid as the world’s most frenetic cities.

The study found that globally, people’s walking speeds have increased by 10 percent over the last decade, with the biggest increases in the Far East.

In Singapore, walking pace rose by 30 percent and in Guangzhou, China, the figure was 20 percent.

But some cities usually noted for their intensity feature relatively low down the scale — New York is rated eighth, London 12th and Tokyo 16th. The most laid-back places are Blantyre in Malawi and Manama, Bahrain.

The research was carried out by Professor Richard Wiseman, of the University of Hertfordshire, in Hatfield, north of London, who measured the average time it took 35 adults in each city to walk 60 feet (18 metres).

“By 2040, we’ll be arriving before we set off,” said Wiseman.

“The psychology is basically that people’s walking pace is determined by how much they think they’re in a hurry; how quickly they think they should be doing things.

“I believe a lot of it is technology-driven. What’s amazing is that these days, you press send on an email and, if someone hasn’t responded in 10 minutes, you think: ‘Where are they?'”

Wiseman compared his results with statistics collected by Professor Robert Levine, from California State University in the United States, ten years ago, to see how much we have speeded up.

People worried about whether their lives were too frantic should ask themselves questions like whether they were often first to finish meals, if they felt frustrated when stuck behind others walking down the street and whether they walked out of shops if there was a small queue, Wiseman said.

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