It’s National Walking Day, but too many people will have to walk unsafe streets

You may not have known it — it’s not the most publicized special day on the books — but today is National Walking Day. Some of you maybe traded part or all of your drive or transit trip today for a walk to work. But for many, every day is “walking day,” and it happens on streets with dangerous or inconvenient conditions that no one should have to endure just to walk to school, their job, or the grocery store.

Last Friday, I spent some time driving around the sprawling Atlanta, Georgia metroplex photographing some well-known trouble spots for pedestrian safety. Though some improvements have been made in places, there are still so many unsafe streets, corridors and intersections for pedestrians, finding streets that are “dangerous by design” is about as easy as blindly putting your finger down on a map.

The Atlanta Regional Commission has helped address some of these problems through their popular and oversubscribed Livable Centers Initiative that gives metro communities small grants to help make a dangerous street safer, improve MARTA access, add new crosswalks or streetscaping, or other small transportation and improvements to the built environment that helps improve quality of life for residents. And T4 America partner PEDS has had their boots on the ground for years now, working hard to make metro Atlanta more walkable. But we need far more of these kinds of efforts — and similar efforts from others in cities across the country — to make the kinds of improvements we need to save lives and end the 4,000-plus deaths that happen to people walking each year.