What is your experience as a pedestrian on an average day? How long do you walk/roll?
Walking is my primary form of transportation, followed by public transit and biking. Even for those latter two, I walk to get to transit lines and sometimes switch to walking my bike if I don’t feel comfortable biking on a busy street. Working from home during the pandemic has made my schedule more variable, but I still walk to the store, parks, and around my neighborhood on a regular basis.
Why do you walk/roll? Where do you start and finish? Make any stops along the way?
I walk because I often enjoy it! Getting to spend time outside throughout the day is really important to my health and happiness. Walking is a time when I can think and relax and the option to walk everywhere is a big reason I love living in the city. One great thing about being a pedestrian is that you can make lots of separate stops and not worry about parking, locking up your bike, or paying multiple bus fares.
How can Philadelphia make pedestrian environments safer for everyone?
One big step is changing how city planners, lawmakers, and even regular people think about streets. Many of us have been taught that the primary goal of roads is vehicle travel, which makes pedestrians, cyclists, and buses secondary (at best) in how they are designed. Even after years of walking as my primary form of transportation I used to think about dangerous intersections, or horrible sidewalks as an inevitability rather than a failure of policy or planning. Changing this mindset to center the needs of people who walk or roll is an important step in making Philadelphia roads better and more accessible to everyone.
Why do you think walking/rolling is important?
Not only is it a way to move around the city without contributing to the burning of fossil fuels, but it’s already a central part of almost everybody’s daily lives. And, on a community level, walking/rolling is also an important way that people interact with each other, their neighborhood, and their environment.
What makes Philadelphia a great walking/rolling city? What could make it better?
Because it is an old city, Philadelphia is fairly dense meaning you can get pretty far as a pedestrian. It also has many fantastic parks, trails and greenspaces that you can access on foot or via public transportation. In terms of what could be better, safer crossings and sidewalks that are accessible to all people are two places that Philly still has a lot to improve on.
Do you feel safe as a pedestrian in Philadelphia? Why or why not?
Yes and no. Although there are many beautiful places to walk in Philly, dangerous intersections exist in many parts of the city. For instance, I used to live near Ridge & Spring Garden and the series of intersections with Ridge Ave. just north of that crossing are all incredibly harrowing. Because I was making this crossing multiple times a day, it was a constant reminder of how hostile Philadelphia can be to pedestrians. Unfortunately, right now a big part of being a pedestrian is figuring out what the safe routes are (if they even exist), and which sidewalks and crossing you need to avoid. In other words safety becomes the responsibility of the pedestrians, not the design of the city or the behavior of drivers.
Why is pedestrian advocacy important to you?
Because I love and rely on walking to get where I need to go in the city, and everyone should be able to navigate the city safely as a pedestrian if they would like to.
If you could make one change to the pedestrian environment what would it be?
I would love to have more open streets throughout the city. Reclaiming space from cars allows people to walk, roll, bike, rollerblade etc. without constantly worrying about drivers, and makes walking a more appealing and comfortable way to get around the city.
Where is your favorite place to walk/roll in Philadelphia?
It’s hard to choose favorites, but I currently live near Clark Park and being able to go on a short walk to such a great greenspace is hard to beat.