Planning Assistance in Action
by Brittany Brothers, Communications and Outreach Coordinator, Maryland Department of Transportation, Kristen E. Humphrey, MLA, Local Assistance and Training Planner, and Michael Bayer, AICP, Manager of Infrastructure and Development
The days are growing shorter, the evenings crisper, and the leaves are just about to “turn,” which means October is right around the corner. Fall is the perfect season to kick start or reignite your walking routine, and what better way than with Walktober!
Named Maryland’s official exercise in 2008, walking has proven particularly important in recent months as a strategy for many Marylanders seeking ways to alleviate some of the unexpected stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), in partnership with the Maryland Department of Planning (Planning), and the Maryland Departments of Health (MDH), Highway Safety Office (MHSO), and Natural Resources (DNR), America Walks, AARP, along with numerous other state and local agencies and non-profits, will promote and host events throughout the month of October, spotlighting Maryland pedestrian safety, health, and commuting options in current walk programs and initiatives around the state.
During Walktober, Planning and MDOT will host a series of free webinars – or Walkinars – that are open to all. The month’s festivities also feature Walk Maryland Day, which Governor Hogan announced as October 7 this year. This statewide celebration will involve Marylanders from every walk of life stepping out (pun intended!) to heighten awareness of the importance of walking, and encourage people of all ages and abilities to participate in walks and show their support.
“The walkability of our communities is a critical component to Maryland’s transportation mission,” says MDOT Secretary, Greg Slater. “Events such as Walktober, where we’re bringing different voices to the table, and encouraging action and heightening awareness, at the national, state and local levels, are important as we work together to improve safety and deliver innovative solutions across Maryland.”
The Walkinar series of webinars, hosted by Planning in partnership with MDOT, is tailored to the interests of pedestrian enthusiasts, advocates, planners, and residents.
These free, 90-minute online sessions will highlight how we can collectively rally around walking, an activity that, as aptly stated by Secretary Slater, is both central to the state’s active transportation efforts and an important strategy for promoting public health and well-being. Specifically, the Walkinars will help planners, local officials, stakeholders, and the public at large learn how to advocate for safe walking infrastructure. Panelists will identify key resources to build, strengthen, and sustain local partnerships and share new tools and technologies being used across the country to identify and plan for pedestrian-accessible routes for people of all ages and abilities.
Planners who attend Walkinars are eligible to receive 1.5 Certification Maintenance (CM) credits from the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) to support their professional planning certification. There is no cost to participate.
All webinars will be held 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. EST on the following Thursdays: October 1st, 15th, 22nd and 29th. (For more information on the topics to be discussed, see sidebar above.)
Walk Maryland Day – Become a Walk Leader or a Sole Mate
Governor Larry Hogan has declared October 7, 2020, Walk Maryland Day, a celebration of our state’s official exercise and a call to action to promote walking for physical activity and improved health. The celebration needs you!
We’re seeking Walk Leaders — change agents from different sectors of the community who see the health benefits of walking and can encourage fellow Marylanders to take time out of their day to enjoy a walk in their community. Walk Leaders will help recruit Sole Mates, the participants who sign up to safely join registered walks throughout the State.
Are you interested in leading or joining a walk on October 7? Anyone can register as a Walk Leader, whether your walk is in your neighborhood, at a local park, on a treadmill, with your dog, by yourself, or with a group of friends while maintaining social distancing guidelines.
Not interested in being a leader but would love to join in on a walk? You can sign up to participate as a Soul Mate on an existing walk, whether it be virtual or in person. Sole Mate registration and a list of all registered walks will be posted on the Walk Maryland Day webpage beginning on October 1, 2020.
Stay Safe and Have Fun!
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of walking as a critical aspect of human well-being, not only as means of transportation, but also for active recreation and exercise. Of course, as we plan to celebrate Walktober and Walk Maryland Day, safety is the number one priority. Thus, we’ll be pleased to see everyone out there (or joining virtually) wearing masks, social distancing, and following all the health protocols we know are so important to Maryland’s recovery.
So, along with your sneakers, water bottle and keys, be sure remember your mask and hand sanitizer!
Photos courtesy of the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) website.
Stay Connected and Informed
* In addition to the Maryland State agencies and non-profits named above, other organizations supporting Walktober include the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission Department of Parks and Recreation, Maryland Department of Commerce, the University of Maryland Extension, Horizon Foundation and Garrett Trails, as well as various participating agencies in Montgomery, Howard, Harford and Wicomico counties.