Chloe Finigan, Transportation Outreach Coordinator at Clean Air Council, took some time to talk about her experiences as a pedestrian in Philly! She currently works as the support staff for Feet First Philly (FFP). If you would like to get involved with FFP, email firstname.lastname@example.org today.
What is your experience as a pedestrian? How long do you walk? Why did you decide to walk as your commute?
I gave up my car when I moved to Boston two years ago and really enjoyed using public transit and walking to get around. When I moved to Philly this summer I found that the trolley and bus system was comparable, and the city itself was even more walkable! I fell into walking as a commute because it was cheap, but now I use it to exercise and experience the city.
What is your average commute? Where do you start and finish? Make any stops along the way?
If I walk from my house it is about 45 minutes, but with a trolley it is about 20. On a nice night, I will walk the whole way stopping by the library or grabbing a bite to eat. Walnut and Chestnut Street going west are full of store fronts, so it makes for a scenic route.
Have you ever experienced a dangerous or problematic intersection? What happened?
Getting to know Philly has been a blast, but I have encountered some dangerous areas. Most recently, I was crossing at North Broad and Spring Garden around rush hour and had to run across during the last few seconds as trucks were turning in front of me. There are also many intersections in west and south Philly where cars run through red lights, and while those aren’t as bad as the major streets, I find myself having to make sure that someone is going to stop for me.
What would you suggest to make walking in Philly safer?
Addressing the aggressive driving culture. It is clear that most of these streets are built around cars, and being a pedestrian on the roads can feel unsafe. On a larger scale, updating the engineering of roads to provide adequate space for all transportation modes is key- and leads to less congestion. You can also make incremental changes like enforcing the traffic laws on the books.
Why do you think walking is important?
Walking is the most equitable transportation mode. It is free and provides great health benefits, but most importantly creates connected communities. I love walking home, even though it can take an hour if I take my time, because Chestnut and Walnut Streets are full of people and businesses and public parks. Walking provides all of these things to everyone for free!