Pedestrians of Philadelphia: Emily Morton-Owens

1) What is your experience as a pedestrian? How long do you walk? Why did you decide to walk as your commute?

I have never owned a car, so for me, a walking commute is an active and relaxing alternative to public transit (although I do take the trolley and bus in bad weather!). I find walking to be a wonderful meditative division in the day between work and home. On average weekdays, I cover about 4 miles but on weekends in good weather, I have been known to cover 15!

2) What is your average commute? Where do you start and finish? Make any stops along the way?

I live in Graduate Hospital and work at Penn, so I walk across the South St. Bridge when I am in a hurry or through Fitler Square and the Walnut St. Bridge when I am not. It takes me about half an hour in the morning. On the way home, I go all different places to run errands or meet friends. Varying my route makes it more fun.

3) Have you ever experienced a dangerous or problematic intersection? What happened?

There are definitely intersections I avoid. One that I cannot do is South Street and 27th Street at the foot of the bridge. You know something is wrong with the design when it is actually safer, in terms of avoiding conflict with turning vehicles, to walk on the red light.

4) What would you suggest to make walking in Philly safer?

Aside from the obvious traffic enforcement, I would love to see measures to stagger rush hour and offer incentives not to drive on bad air quality days. I was diagnosed with asthma as an adult after moving to Philadelphia and I have to watch myself, especially in the summer. No more running after work, alas. This is why Feet First’s mission as a part of the Clean Air Council is really important to me.

5) Why do you think walking is important?

Walking is the best way to genuinely connect with familiar landscapes and to experience a neighborhood you do not usually visit! I love Philly’s little “carriage streets” and walk there whenever possible on my route–there is such a sense of intimacy and peace that hits you when you duck off the main streets. These shared secrets make me love Philadelphia so much.

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