Editorial: 10 tips for people who walk

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Is our town walkable?

Not really. Some areas are, but most aren&8217;t.

We all know there are far too many neighborhoods in Albert Lea without sidewalks.

In the interest of safety, we thought we would share this October 2005 article from the Appalachian Mountain Club:

Do you have a dream of your kids being able to walk to school safely? Of not having to get in the car to go to the post office? Here are 10 things you can do to make your town more walkable, put together with the help of the U.S. Department of Transportation&8217;s Partnership for a Walkable America.

1. Network with other walkers and start a pedestrian advisory committee for your local government.

2. Identify the red-alert spots in your neighborhood where traffic is the most hazardous and consider what must be done to change it. Does the crossing signal give walkers enough time to safely cross the street? Do cars come to a full stop at four-way-stop intersections? Tell local traffic engineering or the public works department.

3. Report unsafe driving to the police, and petition for more enforcement. Organize a neighborhood speed watch program. If there&8217;s a chronic problem in your neighborhood and you see nothing being done about it, call the local media.

4. Educate yourself about traffic-calming and initiate changes: Rotaries are safer than four-way stops. Lane diets do not significantly slow traffic, and they make the streets safer for cyclists and walkers.

5. Document problems and attend city or town meetings to speak up about them.

6. Drive safely. Many walkers lose perspective when they get behind the wheel and need to get somewhere fast. Set an example: Slow down and be considerate of other drivers and pedestrians.

7. Walk safely. In many cities, pedestrians are as heedless of the rules as some drivers. Cross at crosswalks. Stop and look left, right, left before crossing. Walk on sidewalks or shoulders facing traffic. Cross with the light. Teach your children the rules of walking.

8. Sit down with your children to map out safe routes; explain to them why they should steer clear of unsafe routes. Traffic isn&8217;t the only safety concern: consider poor lighting, bad sidewalks (report these to your public works department), scary dogs or scary people.

9. Make your own neighborhood more pleasant. Take a walk with a trash bag and clean up littered areas. Plant trees and flowers in your yard. Organize a community clean-up day. Start a crime watch program.

10. Take back the streets. The more people out walking, the more respectful drivers are of pedestrians. And it&8217;s good for you.