The Humble Neighborhood Walk Gets Its Moment in the Sun
Some local organizations are shining a spotlight on one of the few outside-the-house activities still available to us – the neighborhood walk.
Transit Columbus has created a Walk Columbus Pledge to encourage people to take daily walks to “explore the nooks and crannies of our own neighborhoods…rather than heading for the most popular areas.”
The “most popular areas” right now are often our local parks and trails, which have been attracting the types of crowds that we are all supposed to be avoiding.
The organization also sees the walk pledge as a way to generate some good ideas about making our neighborhoods more pedestrian-friendly.
“As part of the Walk Columbus pledge we’ve committed to think about ways to make our neighborhoods safer for pedestrians and report those ideas back,” the new website states. “These thoughts and ideas will be collected and we’ll use them to advocate on your behalf to the City of Columbus (or wherever you live).”
“We know that transit has been hard hit by this crisis and we were really looking to bring some positive energy to folks that care about urban issues and the urban environment,” said Josh Lapp, Board Chair of Transit Columbus. “We also know that while walking is something we are being encouraged to get out and do, there are still ways we can go about getting out and walking that are better than others.”
Columbus Landmarks recently sent out an email to its supporters with another suggestion for restless social-distancers – Art Walks. Columbus Public Health has designed custom, self-guided walks for 14 different city neighborhoods featuring interesting and informative stories about public art, architecture and history.
You can find the maps for each walk – complete with a phone number and code to enter to hear the audio segments – on the Columbus Public Health website. The walks are also available on the MyColumbus mobile app.
A handful of national advocacy organizations have also been thinking and writing about the heightened relevance of walking during the COVID-19 pandemic.
CityLab is inviting readers to make and share their own homemade neighborhood maps, and Rails to Trails has started a petition calling for the closure of some streets to car traffic in order to safely accommodate greater numbers of pedestrians and cyclists, citing a dramatic uptick in usage on trails across the country. There have also been calls to close streets that run through parks and build new protected bike lanes.
“This is an opportunity to change our perceptions on walking and what is walkable,” added Lapp. “Maybe when this is over, a 30 minute walk to a destination won’t be a big deal for most people!”
Editor’s note (4/320, 4:34 p.m.): this article was updated with additional information.
Keep up with regular news updates regarding Columbus and Ohio’s response to COVID-19 here.