Friday, May 29, 2020

Supporting Walkable Communities: Walking, Moving, Existing in Public Space Should Never Cost a Life

May 2020
Walking, Moving, Existing in Public Space
Should Never Cost a Life
Walking, moving, occupying our cities, neighborhoods, public spaces and streets without death or fear of death is a basic human right. Anything less is unacceptable.

We can talk about the myriad of ways that walking intersects with what is happening in our streets right now. George Floyd was walking when officers led him onto the sidewalk before he sat against a wall. Derek Chauvin and the other officers involved can walk wherever they want to right now as they currently face no criminal charges. Protestors are walking through collective grief while seeking accountability and action. 

But the only thing we need to talk about is the violence against BIPOC in our streets and how to stop grotesque human rights violations in our public spaces (and our homes). And further, how we as walkable community leaders and advocates uphold anti-racist principles in every act of our work.  

We are still figuring this out for ourselves and welcome your feedback. Here are some resources and writings that address adopting an anti-racist framework:

Making Meaning and Finding Solutions for a Better Future
+ 5 Tips for Sparking Walkable Community Change
There is no denying the significant suffering that COVID 19 has brought and will continue to bring for months and perhaps years ahead, however, there is also no denying that our future can be different from our past. 

This is a moment in time to reflect and rejoice in the people-first, community changes we know we have the power to create. Read more from our Executive Director, Kate Kraft, and get tips for how to activate authentic community change.
Research in Action: Results for How Municipalities Are Addressing Increased Demand for Safe Public Space 
We asked you to become a real-time citizen scientist on how your streets are being repurposed during COVID-19 and the polls are in. Our panelists with UNC’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center presented on an effort to collect and analyze data on these strategies in order to identify community-based factors related to their adoption, impacts, long-term viability, and potential unintended consequence.

They also shared ideas for creative approaches in estimating the impacts of COVID-19 on walking conditions and pedestrian activity. Check out the results and the recording for the interesting conclusions.
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We announced our latest class of Walking College Fellows, is one in your community? Get to know these 25 walkable neighborhood champions and learn more about the Walking College.
Thanks to pressure from walkable community advocates, with Walk Austin's lead, the Austin City Council just passed a Healthy Streets program. A big deal for the over 40 percent of Austinites who don’t live within a 10-minute walk of a park.

Gabe Colombo, an urban design intern at Black + Vernooy Architecture and Urban Design in Austin, walks us through the details.
Fire up your imagination and your step count! World Walking is a gamified adventure that will take you to some of the best places on earth - virtually.

The pandemic has led to many more people than normal signing up to use World Walking, in search of staying active and connected safely.