Survey Says:  More than 70% in the Pike District Would Walk More If It Were Safer

In a survey of 100 area residents conducted in November by the Pike District Pedestrian Safety Campaign, an overwhelming majority of respondents said they would walk more in the Pike District, if only it were safer

Other revealing findings from the survey include:

70% say driver inattention to pedestrians is the most dangerous obstacle.

Almost one half say there aren’t crosswalks where they want to cross.

44% say pushing the walk button to cross is a problem.

One third say there isn’t enough light at night to walk safely

65% of respondents walk in the Pike District three or more time a week

The survey is part of a broader effort to improve conditions for pedestrians in the Pike District. This past September, advocates, Friends of White Flint, and Coalition for Smarter Growth launched the campaign by placing pedestrian safety signs around the district. With messages like “Wish there was a crosswalk here? So do we,” the signs call attention to needed improvements and encourage walkers to join in the push for safer streets.

“In January, based on the survey results, we will prioritize the improvements that can be implemented relatively easily and inexpensively,” said Amy Ginsburg, Executive Director at Friends of White Flint. “The community will then advocate for implementing those simple changes to make walking in the Pike District as safe as possible as quickly as possible.”

Respondents to the survey noted areas where walking was not safe and gave many suggestions for ways to improve walkability in the Pike District. Here are a few comments.

“The largest danger to me are drivers who are turning right: they often don’t look right before roaring into ongoing traffic. I have almost been hit several times. The other danger are the unpleasant stretches where sidewalks are missing or badly maintained. The third problem are the long, long stretches without crosswalks or lights.”

“The slip turn lanes make it hard to cross even when I have a signal. The Pike is a highway, not a street. It is way too wide and there are so many curb cuts. It feels transgressive to walk in an area so obviously designed primarily for through-traffic and commuters.”

“We need longer, automatic walk signals on crosswalks across Rockville Pike”.

If there was a magic pill that made you happier, healthier, more connected, richer and safer, would you take it?

Well, that magic pill does exist. It’s called “walkable streets.” (I’m certainly glad that we’re enhancing walkability in the White Flint area because I definitely would love to be healthier, happier, richer, more connected to people, and safer.)

Here’s a list of 50 positive effects from creating walkable communities from an article in Fast Company.

1. It helps people live longer
Inactivity is the fourth leading cause of mortality around the world; physical activity dropped 32% in the last four decades in the U.S., and 45% in less than two decades in China. For people over 60, walking just 15 minutes a day can reduce the risk of dying by 22%.

2. It helps people lose weight
A 30-minute walk can burn 100 calories; for every 12 blocks or so walked a day, your risk of obesity drops 4.8%.

3. It reduces the risk of chronic disease
Regular walking may reduce the risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and colon cancer. Inactivity is a primary cause of most chronic diseases.

4. It makes people happier
Someone with a one-hour commute in a car needs to earn 40% more to be as happy as someone with a short walk to work. On the other hand, researchers found that if someone shifts from a long commute to a walk, their happiness increases as much as if they’d fallen in love. People who walk 8.6 minutes a day are 33% more likely to report better mental health.

People who walk 8.6 minutes a day are 33% more likely to report better mental health.

5. It improves traffic safety
More than 270,000 pedestrians are killed around the world every year; better street design, and policies that reduce speed, can obviously help reduce the risk of crashes. Just shortening a long crosswalk can reduce the risk of pedestrian deaths 6%.

6. It brings back “eyes on the street”
While some countries invest in security cameras for streets—like the U.K., with 5.9 million cameras in public spaces—encouraging more people to walk is a cheaper way of increasing surveillance and making streets feel safer.

7. It reduces crime in other ways
Making streets more pleasant for walking—reducing trash, for example, or enforcing the speed limit—also has the added benefit of reducing crime. In one Kansas City neighborhood, crime dropped 74% after some streets went car-free on weekends.

8. It makes neighborhoods more vibrant
The same features that make streets more walkable, like a safer and more attractive design, make people want to spend more time in them generally, bringing vibrancy back to neighborhoods.

9. It enhances the “sense of place”
Spending time walking through a neighborhood, rather than driving, helps people have a better sense of what makes it unique—and more likely to want to help take care of it.

10. It’s a driver for creativity
If a neighborhood is walkable, it’s more likely to become home to public street art and open-air events; conversely, public art and cultural events can help draw people to streets where they might not have walked before.

In one Kansas City neighborhood, crime dropped 74% after some streets went car-free on weekends.

11. It’s universally accessible
While not everyone can afford a car or knows how to drive, walking is universally accessible, and even those who take the subway or drive also walk at some points during the day. The report makes the point that designing pedestrian infrastructure for those who are less mobile also helps make the experience of walking better for everyone.

12. It fosters social interaction
Walkable streets bring people together who might not otherwise meet. In a classic 1960s study, people who lived on streets with more car traffic were less likely to know their neighbors.

13. It strengthens community identity
As people interact more on streets, that also builds a sense of community. In Ireland, one study found that people in walkable neighborhoods had 80% more “social capital” than those living in car-dependent areas.

14. It connects people across generations
In the U.S., millennials prefer walking to driving by a 12% margin. In some areas, the elderly are also more likely to walk or take public transit. Making streets more walkable helps bring people of all ages—including children—together.

15. It builds inclusiveness
Traffic infrastructure, such as highways, can physically separate and segregate neighborhoods; better design for walkability makes the whole city more accessible to everyone. For the lowest-income people, who might lose a job if their car breaks down, it can help build a social safety net.

16. It boosts the economy
Making neighborhoods more walkable increases the number of people who shop there. Pedestrians may spend as much as 65% more than drivers. It also boosts employment; in Dublin, a redesigned pedestrian-friendly neighborhood led to a 300% increase in employment. Overall, biking and walking provide an estimated return on investment of $11.80 for every $1 invested.

17. It helps local businesses
In Brooklyn, redesigning a parking lot into a pedestrian plaza boosted retail sales 172%. People who visit street markets in a city are also more likely to shop at stores nearby. The less that people drive, the more money they also have available to spend locally; an economist estimates that because people in Portland, Oregon, drive 20% less than the rest of the country, they save more than $1 billion, and much of that goes back to local businesses.

18. It helps make people more creative and productive
Research suggests that walking boosts creative output an average of 60%. You’re also more likely to be productive, improve memory, and make better decisions after exercise. Walking during work also helps: One internal study at a company found that people felt more energetic, focused, and engaged after walking meetings.

19. It improves a city’s brand and identity
Making a city more walkable and liveable can also give it a stronger identity, and make people want to visit. Barcelona, which has worked on improving public spaces and walkability since the 1980s, has seen its number of annual visitors grow 335% over the last two decades.

20. It increases tourism
For tourists, walking is one of the best ways to experience a city, and improving walkability makes more people interested in visiting. In London, Trafalgar Square saw a 300% increase in visitors after pedestrianizing.

21. It encourages more investment
After cities invest in walkable public space, it can encourage more investment in the same area. The High Line in New York led to $2 billion in private investment in the neighborhood around the park.

22. It attracts the creative class
Skilled professionals tend to migrate to walkable areas; the most walkable neighborhoods have much higher GDPs per capita, and more college graduates.

Pedestrianizing a street can make home values go up $82 a square foot.

23. It increases land and property values
When neighborhoods become safer, more accessible, and more liveable, property values rise. Pedestrianizing a street can make home values go up $82 a square foot. It’s also good for landlords, if not tenants: Rents can rise $300 per month.

24. It activates the street facade
Walkable neighborhoods are less likely to have a lot of vacant storefronts. In New York City, expanding the pedestrian space in Union Square reduced commercial vacancies 49%.

25. It shrinks the cost of traffic congestion
The more people walk and the fewer people are stuck in traffic on roads, the more that benefits the economy. In the Bay Area, for example, businesses lose $2 billion a year because employees are stuck in gridlock.

26. It saves money on construction and maintenance
While building and maintaining roads is expensive—the U.S. needs an estimated $3.6 trillion by 2020 to repair existing infrastructure—sidewalks are more affordable. Investing in sidewalks also brings health and air quality benefits worth twice as much as the cost of construction.

27. It reduces health care costs
Inactivity leads to huge health care costs. The U.S. spends $190 billion on obesity-related illnesses alone.

28. It decreases dependency on nonrenewable resources
Experts estimate that the world may only have 56 years worth of oil left; cars waste most of the gas they use. Walking, by contrast, can actually generate energy if cities install energy-harvesting sidewalk tiles.

29. It minimizes land use
Sidewalks and bike paths are more compact than roads; they also enable people to easily live in denser neighborhoods, unlike traditional car-dependent suburbs.

30. It reduces air pollution
On a single car-free day in 2015, Paris cut smog by 40% in parts of the city. Over the long term, pedestrianization can improve health as the air grows cleaner, and can help cut a city’s carbon footprint.

31. It cuts ambient noise
With fewer people driving, cities get quieter. On Paris’s first car-free day, sound levels on main roads dropped three decibels. Plants and trees—which make streets more walkable—also reduce ambient noise.

32. It helps improve urban microclimates
While paved roads contribute to the urban heat island effect, making cities hotter, shaded, plant-lined sidewalks can help cool neighborhoods down from 9 to 35 degrees.

Plant-lined sidewalks can help cool neighborhoods down from 9 to 35 degrees.

33. It can improve water management
Sidewalks designed with permeable surfaces can help suck up water during heavy rain, reducing flooding.

34. It makes cities more beautiful
Roads and sidewalks typically make up the majority of public space in cities; in Chicago, for example, they make up 70%. Making public space more walkable—with landscaping, public art, and other interventions—also makes it more attractive than a typical road.

35. It increases active use of space
In walkable neighborhoods, people are also more likely to make use of parks and public squares, and other outdoor spaces. In Copenhagen, as the city became more pedestrian-friendly over the last few decades, the number of people sitting in squares and otherwise making use of city space tripled.

36. It makes better use of space
Streets that are redesigned to become more walkable also tend to incorporate underutilized space next to roads. In New York, one study found 700 miles of underused public space under elevated structures.

37. It encourages people to drive less
When Copenhagen pedestrianized its main street, foot traffic increased 35% in the first year. In many cities, a large number of trips are only a short distance, and better design makes it more likely that people will prefer to walk or bike.

38. It also promotes public transit
People using a subway or bus to commute to work have to get there from their home—and a better walk makes it more likely that they’ll want to use public transit instead of driving.

39. It increases permeability
Walkability can also make cities more “permeable,” or easier to move around, creating a walking network that may even be easier to use than driving.

40. It bridges barriers
Pedestrian infrastructure can reconnect parts of the city that may have been disconnected by older infrastructure. In Rotterdam, a crowdfunded pedestrian bridge stretches over a busy road and old train tracks.

41. It makes cities more competitive
Walkability is directly connected to liveability. When Melbourne redesigned its center for pedestrians, it saw an 830% increase in residents, and it was recognized as The Economist’s “world’s most liveable city” five years in a row.

42. It builds political support
After the mayor of the Spanish city of Pontevedra decided to go car-free in 1999, the public loved him: He’s now in his fifth term.

Every added 10 minutes of commuting cuts community involvement 10%.

43. It builds engagement
As people spend more time outside in their neighborhoods, they’re more likely to feel attached, and to engage in improving the city in general. Crowdfunded public projects are growing in many cities.

44. It encourages more stakeholders to participate
Every added 10 minutes of commuting cuts community involvement 10%. In L.A., where commuters waste 64 hours a year in traffic, the city is building more participation by helping neighbors transform underused roads into pedestrian spaces.

45. It inspires civic responsibility
Walkability brings people together with other community members, which increases a sense of responsibility. Mexico City’s self-appointed pedestrian “superhero,” who defends pedestrians on city streets, helped build political support for the city’s new commitment to zero traffic deaths.

46. It promotes sustainable behaviors
In Canada, a study found that if people drove one less day a week, it could reduce 3.8 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year. As cities become more walkable, it can enable a cultural shift away from driving. Though the report doesn’t mention it, taking one sustainable action can also lead people to take others.

If people drove one less day a week, it could reduce 3.8 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year.

47. It helps make cities more resilient
If people can easily walk, a breakdown in mass transit, or a gas shortage, is less of a problem. Walkability makes cities more resilient in disasters.

48. It’s a tool for urban regeneration
Making neighborhoods more walkable can spark urban regeneration. In Madrid, a walkable park along the river led to investment in new sports areas, plazas, cafes, and the renovation of historic landmarks.

49. It allows for flexible micro-solutions
A car-free or walkable street is more likely to support pop-up interventions and other cheap, simple, DIY solutions.

50. It supports cultural heritage
Pedestrianization around a cultural landmark can increase the number of people who visit, and help support efforts for preservation. As Beijing quickly modernized, the city decided to pedestrianize several ancient, narrow streets—bringing new visitors and saving part of the city that otherwise might have disappeared.

 

Download the full report here.

 

Want to boost local trade by 40% and lose weight?

walking

Sounds like a cheesy late night infomercial, I know, but who doesn’t want to increase sales and be healthier and skinnier? What is this miracle cure? Quite simply, it’s making a community walkable and bikeable.

Economic benefit:

According to a United Kingdom studywalking and cycling projects return an average of $20 in economic benefit for every $1.50 invested. The boost comes from more trade for local shops, less traffic congestion, and reduced pollution.

A University of California study showed that cities in which residents are physically active have a big advantage over their more sedentary rivals, with better economic productivity, higher property values and improved school performance, as well as a healthier population. The report stated that “in an increasingly globalized, competitive and mobile world, cities have an economic imperative to promote walking, cycling and public transport, as well as increasing the amount of green space and curbing car use.”

Weight loss:

Inactivity is dangerous to one’s health — you’ve no doubt read that a hundred times. University of Cambridge researchers determined that just 20 minutes of walking a day could have significant positive health and weight loss benefits. How to get that 20 minutes? How about walking to work, to metro, or to meet a friend for lunch? The article states, “If more people cycled or walked to work or school, it would make a big difference in raising levels of physical activity.” Another study noted that investment in cycling in the City of Portland could save billions of dollars in better public health.

Hmm. Sounds like the Pike District/White Flint area is right on track to help us improve our economy and our health. Perhaps the Pike District will be our miracle cure.

Take A Walk Around White Flint

**** NOTE — this has been RESCHEDULED TO SATURDAY, OCTOBER 25th at 9:15am. Click here for more information****

 

Friends of White Flint and the Governor’s Institute for Community Design invite you to a Walking Tour of White Flint, this Saturday, October 11th.  Join me and former Maryland Governor Parris Glendening on a one-mile stroll through our community.  The tour will focus on current conditions and planned improvements to the pedestrian environment in White Flint, and highlight the challenge of balancing the needs of all of the roads’ users while we transform this auto-oriented area into one that’s more walkable and bikeable.  See more details below and email us at info@WhiteFlint.org with any questions!

  • What: White Flint Community Walking Tour
  • Where: Tour will begin and end at the Pike Central Farmer’s Market, located in the parking lot at the corner of Old Georgetown Road and Executive Blvd.  Please plan to walk approximately one mile.
  • When: Saturday, October 11th  at 9:15am.  It will last approximately 75 minutes.
  • Who: Hosted by Friends of White Flint and the Governor’s Institute for Community Design. Tour will be led by Lindsay Hoffman and former Maryland Governor Parris Glendening.

Pike Central Walking Club

Walkability is an important interest for us here at Friends, especially because of walking’s positive effects on our health and environment. We recently learned about an exciting opportunity for some fun and healthy ways to incorporate walking and exercise around the White Flint area.

The Pike Central Farm Market is hosting the new Pike Central Walking Club. Beginning this Saturday, June 7th, you can join Central Farm Market’s fitness expert Prisna Anderson, a Certified Personal Trainer, Zumba Instructor, and Corporate Health and Wellness Instructor for Kaiser Permanente, for a great walk around the White Flint district area.

The Walking Club will run for one hour, starting with a warm-up at 8:30 am. The first half of the class will include walking exercises that can help you get ready for faster pace circuits. The second half will be as Central Farm Market puts it “Walk and Sculpt,” where you will do 2 circuits that will incorporate body weight exercises with balance and core training. The final stretch will be a cool down and walk back to the market, where you can enjoy the market for some delicious breakfast or early lunch.

The Pike Central Walking Club will be walking on the following Saturdays:

  • June 7
  • June 14
  • June 21
  • June 28
  • July 12
  • July 19
  • July 26
  • August 2
  • August 9
  • August 16
  • August 23

The fee is $10 per walk, which is payable to Prisna at the time of the class. Children ages 12-17 are welcomed to join the club if they are accompanied by a parent/guardian for an additional $5.

If you want to join the club, please email prisnaanderson@gmail.com by the Wednesday before each walk. For more information, check out Central Farm Market.

2014 Biking and Walking Benchmarking Report

Alliance for Biking and Walking recently released their 2014 benchmarking report for biking and walking that includes data from 2011 and 2012. Angie Schmitt for Streetsblog USA has been writing a few various posts on the information coming from the report.

Here are some important facts from the report:

The number of people who bike and walk to work is growing gradually. According to the report, “3.4 percent of commuters” nationwide go to work by biking and walking in 2011 and 2012, with 2.8% by walking and 0.6% by bicycle.

Walking is growing more in cities. The walking commute rose to 5 percent in 2012. Boston has the highest share of walkers at 15 percent, with Washington D.C. following in second with 11.8 percent. Below is the share of commuters in the top 50 cities across the US:

cities_commute-3

Source: Streetsblog USA and Alliance for Biking and Walking

Data on biking and walking is still hard to uncover. Tracking biking and walking is not something city or county governments have focused on primarily. In the long run, tracking this data could really help emphasize funding towards infrastructure that will promote biking and walking.

Positively, “levels of diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity are all lower in cities with higher shares of commuters bicycling or walking to work.” These methods of transportation have positive impact on the public health of communities and cities.

Federal funding for biking and walking transportation is also increasing gradually. In 2012, 2 percent of funding was told biking and walking.

These are only some of the facts from the report. To learn more, you can access the report here.