DC Designated as a Walk Friendly Community

Photo by PoPville flickr user pablo.raw

From DDOT:

The District of Columbia has been designated as a Gold Walk Friendly Community (WFC) by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center. The Gold designation puts the District in select company with the most pedestrian friendly cities in the nation.

“We have an extra bounce in our step today as we celebrate our Gold status,” said Mayor Vincent C. Gray. “It validates the work we have already done to promote walking and other clean modes of transportation, and it shows we’re on the right path to creating a more Sustainable DC.”

One of the goals of the Mayor’s Sustainable DC Vision Plan is for at least 75% of all trips originating in the city to be by walking, biking, transit or other clean transportation alternative by the year 2032.

In recognizing the District as a Walk Friendly Community, the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) said “the walking and transit mode share are extraordinary and some of the best in the nation.”

The PBIC also praised the District’s Pedestrian Master Plan, sidewalk design standards and Public Realm Design Manual; said the city’s traffic signals “show a high level of sophistication and awareness for all road users”; recognized DDOT for having a full-time pedestrian coordinator and for its commitment to public input; and singled out the Great Streets Initiative, Livability Studies, and the 11th Street Bridge project as model programs and projects. In addition, DDOT was applauded for providing training on pedestrian issues to planning and design staff and even police officers and transit operators. Recognition was also given to MPD for its pedestrian safety enforcement efforts, in particular those conducted in conjunction with the regional Street Smart safety awareness campaign.

“The combined efforts of our pedestrian and bicycle programs are paying off,” said DDOT Director Terry Bellamy. “We’ve seen a remarkable drop in the number of fatal crashes involving pedestrians over the past 2 years, and we will continue to make improvements so that our streets are even safer for walkers and all users.”

The District is one of nine communities recognized today, and the only one designated as a Gold-level Walk Friendly Community. The Walk Friendly Community designation, awarded from bronze to platinum, is given to applicant communities that have demonstrated a commitment to improving and sustaining walkability and pedestrian safety through comprehensive programs, plans and policies. To date, 33 communities in the U.S. have been designated as Walk Friendly Communities, and only one, Seattle, Washington, has earned the Platinum-level designation.

21 Comment

  • With all the speed cameras rolling out these days, we’ll all be walking soon! LOL.

  • boochow

    I guess the Sherman Ave ‘street scape’ project occoured after this evaluation. Crappiest sidewalk plan ever.

  • Wow! This is insane. Guess the reality is that only vehicles coming into the city will be delivery trucks for Wal-mart, the DC Buses to NY in Chinatown, METRO PD, Capitol PD, Homeland PD, DCPD, and the trolley.

    One of the goals of the Mayor’s Sustainable DC Vision Plan is for at least 75% of all trips originating in the city to be by walking, biking, transit or other clean transportation alternative by the year 2032.

  • Well sure DC is walkable if by walkable you mean that fewer people actually die while walking?! I went three years without a car in this city, as a student and non-profit worker, and it’s terrible – some things are the same everywhere (cabs are expensive, lugging home groceries) but to compound it Metro is a disaster … stations are far apart, it’s also expensive, it’s slow! Maybe for people who can afford to live next to Metro or in affluent neighborhoods with everything right there – but as someone who tried to make it walkable, I sure don’t think it is!

  • I have a car for work. for everything personal but grocery shopping I walk or talk the bus. I think this is an immensely walkable city.

    • –coming from someone who has a car….and doesn’t spend an hour going 5 miles for work…

      • You must be one of those people who works in an office downtown and assumes everyone else does too. For all you know this person could work in Reston or McLean or someplace that’s a nightmare to get to via public transit. Or the vehicle might be required by the nature of the job.

      • I posted at 8:50. I would walk to work if I could. Not sure what’s wrong with encouraging pedestrians.

  • I don’t care where the person works – I *agree* that a car is necessary in DC! My point is that – it IS very difficult to be without a car in DC.

    I think it’s very easy to talk about how walkable the city is when you have a car! Because you don’t actually have to walk. If you need a ride in a pinch – you have one.

    It’s very difficult to live without a car in DC, even if you do work downtown and particularly if you don’t have a lot of money. I live a ten minute walk from Metro and have worked at jobs that were more and less Metro accessible. I now pay about as much for a cheap lease as I did for Metro and my life is much, much easier. DC is not a pedestrian friendly, walkable city compared to most other cities in the country and the world.

    “Not being killed while on foot” is a very low standard for declaring a city “pedestrial friendly”.

    • (also, when we talk about “somewhere that is a nightmare to get to via public transportation” – in DC, it can be a nightmare to get somewhere 5 miles away via public transportation – it doesn’t have to be Reston or McLean)
      I’d love to hear from each commenter along with their opinion whether they have a car or not.

      • I have no car. Many friends here in Ward 1 also get along just fine without one. Life is less stressful walking or biking around this city. Not trying to be smug, just honest.

        Also, I’ve walked around Seattle quite a bit, and would have to strongly disagree with the PBIC assertion that it’s more walkable than DC. It’s not bad but there is way more land given to parking lots and stand alone parking garages out there than there is in DC. It’s also hillier and has more spread out neighborhoods than DC.

      • I have a car, a holdover from my days in Virginia. My girlfriend uses it to visit her mother in Burke a few times a week, and I use it to visit my family in NJ once a month. I also used it when I was taking classes at GMU. In other words, we use it for trips out of the city that would be difficult or impossible to do by public transit.

        The rest of the time the car sits there unused. My insurance is extremely low because I had one of those pay-as-you-drive devices that based the rate on how many miles you drive a day. Mine were so low that I got the biggest discount available.

        Sometimes a whole week will go by where I don’t set foot in a car, bus, or train. I walk to work, to yoga and other fitness classes, to Harris Teeter for groceries. I walk down the street for my Italian classes or a little further down if I need something from the hardware store. I walk to events at the Yards Park and museum at the National Mall. If I want to do some clothes shopping I’ll walk to Metro Center.

        I know some neighborhoods in DC aren’t as well connected and don’t have the ammenities mine do, but a lot of them are like mine or even better.

        • I lived ten years without a car between Chicago and Eastern Europe. I have learned to walk – I walk far – a couple of miles each way is fine when I have time – but I can’t afford to live by Eastern Market (?) or close enough to Metro Center to walk.

          • so we should discourage walking because you can’t make it work for your life? yes, your experiences have given you a sour outlook. that doesn’t mean dc isn’t walkable, yet you seem to want us all to think that.

        • I did acknowledge that “some neighborhoods in DC aren’t as well connected and don’t have the ammenities mine do,” and presumably yours is one of them. Nevertheless, I live in a neighborhood that is far from what most people consider the heart of the city, yet I can walk almost everywhere I need to go. I think a good chunk of DC’s neighborhoods are extremely walkable, though as you alluded they tend to be the wealthier ones.

          • do people even think before they post here? Saying that Dc is not walkable is not the same as discouraging people from walking. Great, walk! Walking because it’s good for the environment is a very different thing from walking because you have to… regarding the link to the list of cities that have lots of people with cars – DC has a *huge* portion of people living in poverty. People living without cars are not the hipsters doing it out of moral conviction – they are people who cannot afford cars!

            I know so many people who get some sort of moral kick from being able to say, I don’t have a car .. .but – my fiancee does, my parents bought me an apartment above metro… or I have a car, but I only use it … (to drive to NJ once a month?! You use more gas than I do!). It is very difficult to get by in DC without a car and it essentially minimizes the difficulties faced by poor people to say otherwise.

          • What does “It is very difficult to get by in DC without a car” have to do with using a car to drive to NJ once a month? NJ is not in DC!

    • you may find this interesting

      it’s a leap to be sure, but i would suggest that this is because of the walkability of these cities. to say that most cities in the us or around the world are more walkable than dc is silly.

    • I work downtown, I don’t have a lot of money, and I don’t find it necessary to have a car. Of course, there are things I can’t do without a car, such as stock up on bulk items at Costco or drive out of the city for weekend trips. But I rarely need to do those things, and if I really wanted or needed to, I suppose I could get an occasional Zipcar. Granted, it makes it easier that I don’t have kids and I don’t have to travel to a far-flung suburban location or work. I can easily use a combination of Metro, bus, and walking to get to work, meet up with friends, grocery shop, etc. I think there are plenty of parts in DC where a car is not at all necessary. But I might also be biased because I’m in my mid-30s and have never owned a car (because of the expense, not because I’m trying to make a lifestyle or environmental statement)–so the minor, occasional inconveniences of transit just seem normal to me. Yes, they can be frustrating, but I’ll take that over the expense of car payments, insurance, repairs, gas; and over sitting in traffic day in and day out.

  • Having just spent the day walking around Amsterdam, I have a renewed appreciation for the idea that a city really can function beautifully with essentially no-one driving cars. Would love to learn more about the history of Amsterdam’s evolution to its current state – I’m sure a big piece of it is that the city was laid out before cars and therefore isn’t physically configured in a car-friendly way. But, I wonder about the bike lanes, which I think are relatively recent. Having true bike lanes, not “sharrows” or morons driving in traffic on major avenues in rush hour because theoretically we “share the road,” is a real game changer.

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