Promoting Walkability in America – From Coast to Coast

Posted 03/10/14 by Amy Kapp in Trail Use

Photos © FreeWalkers

In America’s urban centers and rural areas, walkability is becoming a hot topic. Both the public and public leaders are recognizing the way in which pedestrian-friendly policies and infrastructure can help spur economic development, improve individual and community health, and make neighborhoods more livable.  

Here are two organizations from either side of the continent that are talking the talk andwalking the walk:     

Feet First for a Walkable Washington

Feet First began as a group of concerned citizens in 1995 that wanted to promote walkable communities. Now, the fast-growing organization advocates for pedestrian-friendly policies and improvements throughout Washington State. 

Their “Walkable Washington” initiative showcases exceptional projects and programs in local communities, such as the City of Longview’s Sidewalk Business License Program, whereby business owners can apply for free licenses to place features such as seating or retail signs on public sidewalks. And, the project has recently expanded beyond the core commerce area of downtown to all economic zones in Longview. Makes for a very walkable place, indeed.

By the way, Executive Director Lisa Quinn tells us that they are holding a Walkable Washington Symposium on April 3 to highlight the great pedestrian-oriented projects across the state. More than 100 community leaders, educators and walking advocates are anticipated to gather to explore urban design as it relates to walkability, and community engagement and education.  

Learn more about it here.

Going the Distance in (of) New Jersey

freewalkers-walking-near-pond.pngSometimes, to bring people together, all you need is a venue and an idea. Take New Jersey-based FreeWalkers, an informal—and free—group, founded by Morristown resident Paul Kiczek, which encourages fitness, pedestrianism and friendship while pursuing personally challenging goals through organized long-distance walking events.

This is the fourth year they’ve partnered with East Coast Greenway (ECG) for their Cross-Jersey Walking Challenge, which sets a goal of walking the 100 miles of the ECG. To kick off their spring season on April 5, they’re inviting people to join them for a 40-mile, one-day walk along the D & R Canal—once one of America’s busiest navigation canals. 

And, you don’t have to be an iron man; people of all abilities are encouraged to participate, and can choose to walk less than the total distance and at their own pace.

“This is not about speed but about endurance,” says Kiczek. “Walkers benefit from exercise, friendships and delight of discovering a hidden world nearby. Everyone who walks is a winner.”

Sounds like a winning idea.

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