In my little city community, I am fortunate to have great Vietnamese and Thai food within walking distance, and a Little League field and park for the kids around the corner. Our neighborhood has decent sidewalks, so it’s easy — and safe — to walk the dogs (although I do wish some of the drivers who speed through would go easy on the gas pedal).
Not everyone is so fortunate. Particularly for those with mobility limitations, walking to the post office, even if it’s just a few blocks away, is not possible, and as many of our city sidewalks are aging along with our population, it’s also not safe.
Living in a walkable community is not an inalienable right, but the National Complete Streets Coalition is working hard to make it nearly so.
Now of course, if you live in a rural area where cows and open fields are your closest neighbors, the Coalition’s efforts don’t quite apply. But in recent years, with all the (justified) hype about supporting AIP (aging in place), groups like the NCSC have emerged, working towards the creation of livable communities for people of all ages. Here’s an excerpt from their site that spells out their mission:
“The streets of our cities and towns are an important part of the livability of our communities. They ought to be for everyone, whether young or old, motorist or bicyclist, walker or wheelchair user, bus rider or shopkeeper. But too many of our streets are designed only for speeding cars, or worse, creeping traffic jams.
Now, in communities across the country, a movement is growing to complete the streets. States, cities and towns are asking their planners and engineers to build road networks that are safer, more livable, and welcoming to everyone.
Instituting a complete streets policy ensures that transportation planners and engineers consistently design and operate the entire roadway with all users in mind – including bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and riders, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.”
In partnership with organizations like Smart Growth America and Transportation for America, the NCSC is advocating for these priorities on Capitol Hill, presenting informational workshops across the country, and seeking Complete Streets stories from people who live in communities where the streets are just not safe, where crossing intersections as a pedestrian is like taking your life in your hands. Follow their legislative updates or learn about other ways to get involved at their site, CompleteStreets.org.
Your turn: If you live in a city or town, how walkable is your community? What improvements would you like to see?