This month’s Pedestrians of Philadelphia is Will Fraser. He is the sustainable transportation outreach coordinator at Clean Air Council and an avid cyclist and pedestrian.
What is your experience as a pedestrian on an average day? How long do you walk/roll?
My experience as a pedestrian varies from day to day. Some days I walk as part of my and others I walk to a local grocery store, market, or to run errands. The majority of my pedestrian life in Philadelphia is spent walking my dog Hanna. We typically go on walks twice a day within a few miles radius of my home for between 30 minutes and 2 hours.
How can Philadelphia make pedestrian environments safer for everyone?
Ensuring the pedestrian environment is accessible for all users should be a priority for all Philadelphia city agencies. Much of this work is bringing Philadelphia’s pedestrian network up to ADA standards, including installing ADA curb cut ramps, providing a safe network of sidewalks, and making all public transit stations ADA accessible. Ticketing illegally parked cars and automating enforcement of speeding vehicles would also help create safer pedestrian environments. Regular road painting schedules, ensuring sufficient time to cross, and increasing the network of leading pedestrian intervals would help reduce pedestrian conflicts & crashes at intersections. Creating a safer pedestrian environment starts with education, increased driver education on pedestrian rights and the costs of speeding should be a part of DMV driver testing. All road engineering projects should prioritize pedestrian safety.
Why do you think walking/rolling is important?
Walking/rolling is a fundamental right and everyone should be able to travel safely and without the fear of being seriously injured or killed. The benefits of walking/rolling are wide ranging and include physical and mental health, social well-being, and a low-cost, sustainable way to travel.
If you could make one change to the pedestrian environment what would it be?
I would make driving behavior less aggressive. I have visited a lot of cities and places where drivers always stop and give pedestrians the right-of-way. When drivers are patient and willing to wait an extra minute or two at a stop sign it makes the pedestrian experience so much more pleasant. If drivers in Philadelphia slowed down and were more courteous, walking and rolling in Philly would be more enjoyable for sure.
What makes Philadelphia a great walking/rolling city?
Philadelphia has a bit of everything when it comes to walking/rolling. As a city of neighborhoods, even as an outsider, you can tell when you are leaving one neighborhood and entering another. Philadelphia has a diverse landscape and rich past that includes historical buildings, landmarks, and preserved greenspace providing interesting and diverse spaces to navigate as a pedestrian. One underrated aspect of Philadelphia as a walking city is all of its people. From artisans on corners, crossing guards by schools, farmers markets in parks, musicians on sidewalks, open hydrants at block parties, or your favorite neighbor on their stoop there is something and someone to experience in our shared public spaces.