Raleigh Paves the Way for Walkability
“In 2009, the think tank Transportation for America released a report called "Dangerous by Design" [PDF], ranking the least pedestrian-friendly metro areas in the country” reports Eric Jaffe, adding, “Raleigh, North Carolina, placed sixth—as in sixth most dangerous.” According to Fleming El-Amin, one of the city's transportation planners, “That was a bit of an eye opener." Following a lengthy public commentary period, Raleigh is now set to release its response to their public pedestrian shaming - a final version of the draft Comprehensive Pedestrian Plan released last October.
The plan includes physical and psychological elements for making the city more walkable. They physical component includes the creation of up to 212 miles of new sidewalks, which utilizes "a new GIS-based prioritization system that ranks sidewalk projects on both 'need' and 'demand.'" The psychological approach is focused on getting drivers to change their behavior and “to be more observant, and tolerant, of pedestrians.” It also includes the possibility of expanding the city's popular guerrilla wayfinding effort, Walk Raleigh, which helps pedestrians better calculate walking times through signage.
Though the city does not have specific success targets yet, it has already improved to 13th worst pedestrian city in a more recent 2011 report [PDF]. And, El-Amin asserts that this is not just a local issue, but a much larger one for the country, “I think when we really make a shift, either statewide or nationally, to think about every street as a complete street, it'll be more at the forefront to look at pedestrian mobility and connectivity more holistically and comprehensively."