Arlington Achieves Highest Walking Status Among American Communities
Published on June 22, 2022
Arlington has stepped to the summit in the world of walking. The County has been named one of five Walk Friendly Platinum Communities in the U.S. this year, joining an exclusive group comprised of much-larger New York City, Seattle, Portland and San Francisco.
The lofty status comes from the Walk Friendly Communities (WFC) initiative of the University of North Carolina’s Highway Safety Research Center, which previously set the County’s wide-ranging efforts to boost walking at gold status for more than a decade.
According to WFC, the designation reflects Arlington’s success “in transit-oriented planning, remarkable promotion and outreach, and educational offerings for staff and residents.” It’s the first time the County has achieved platinum-level status from WFC after receiving a gold-level rating in 2010 and once again in 2015.
“Being recognized with a platinum rating by Walk Friendly Communities highlights Arlington’s ongoing commitment to increasing walkability throughout our neighborhoods,” said Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol. “We are committed, through many infrastructure projects and County-wide initiatives, to continuing to make walking a viable, enjoyable and safe way for both residents and visitors to get around Arlington.”
Arlington has 527 miles of sidewalks, more than 50 miles of paved, multi-use trails and 14.5 miles of hiking/natural trails. The County’s acclaimed multimodal Master Transportation Plan makes its Pedestrian Element a key feature in integrating growth around public transit lines, with special emphasis on sidewalks and multi-use trails.
Among its transportation outreach services, the County’s WalkArlington program offers abundant resources and events to encourage foot travel as a sustainable, healthy way to commute around and explore Arlington. One such effort is the more than two dozen highly detailed Walkabout map tours developed for discovering Arlington’s mix of neighborhoods as well as their unique features and histories.
In addition, an all-volunteer Pedestrian Advisory Committee helps County leadership and transportation planners visualize and achieve a more walkable Arlington through policy and infrastructure changes—from the busiest urban corridors to charming residential greenways.
An examination of the continued challenges faced by pedestrians is among the key components of Vision Zero, the County’s major transportation safety initiative to ensure that everyone traveling across Arlington arrives safely to their destination. In the first year of Vision Zero, almost 240 crosswalks were updated to display high visibility markings while speed limit zones around 13 schools were reduced to 20 miles per hour to protect walkers.
Such planning, promotion and outreach align perfectly with the challenge of WFC to “prioritize pedestrians and create safe, comfortable and inviting places to walk.”
For more information about the Walk Friendly Communities initiative, visit www.walkfriendly.org.