What is your experience as a pedestrian? How long do you walk?
I grew up in Brooklyn, so walking has been part of my daily life since as far back as I can remember. I lived in California for a few months, once, and I couldn’t get anywhere unless I drove. It was really miserable and make me realize how much I take walkability for granted. I moved to Philadelphia in 2010 and one of the reasons I love it here is because it can be such a great place to walk. I’ve lived in Southwest Philly for the last few years and now that I’m there I love walking around my area and passing through different neighborhoods. Sometimes I walk for 10 minutes and other times I walk for an hour – it really depends.
What is your average walk? Where do you start and finish? Make any stops along the way?
Because I live in Southwest and work in Center City, I don’t really get to walk to and from work, but I try to go for walks on weekends and in the evenings. One of my favorite walks is to and through Mount Moriah Cemetery. I get to walk through a diversity of neighborhoods and streets and say hi to neighbors along the way, then hang out with deer and other wildlife when I get there. Sometimes I bring a book and spend time reading in the cemetery before heading home. I’ve seen other people there walking their dogs, jogging, and sitting in lawn chairs just hanging out. It is a beautiful and interesting place to walk through and explore.
Have you ever experienced a dangerous or problematic intersection? What happened?
I live near the three-way intersection of 49th Street, Baltimore Avenue, and Catharine Street and it is both complicated and stressful. Crossing from the North side of Catharine to the South side of Baltimore – across Cedar Park – can be especially confusing because the crosswalks are faded away and I’m never sure if traffic from Baltimore or 49th is going to go straight or turn onto Catherine. There is always a car blocking the ADA ramp on 49th and Catherine, too, which frustrates me every day.
What would you suggest to make walking in Philly safer?
I think basic enforcement across the city – not just in Center City – could go a long way towards improving driver behavior and making sure spaces for pedestrians are respected by people parking their vehicles.
Why do you think walking is important?
Walking is the most basic form of transportation available, and it is available regardless of race, religion, income, or other differentiator. That means walking can and should be the most accessible and equitable means of transportation we have. It’s also a great way to meet your neighbors, become or remain involved in your community, and make sure you stay physically active. Creating and maintaining comfortable, accessible spaces for walking is not just a public safety issue – it’s a public health issue and an equity issue.