Walktober 2021: Another Successful Year of Walking in Maryland!

Planning in Progress

by Brittany Brothers, Communications & Outreach Coordinator Maryland Department of Transportation and Kristen E. Humphrey, MLA, Local Assistance and Training Planner

The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) would like to thank all our 40 partners, including the agencies, organizations, as well as Maryland residents that participated and helped to make the Walktober 2021 campaign a huge success!

This year’s campaign was bigger and better than last year’s, with more events, more partners, and over 13 dedicated Walktober websites from partners and outside organizations. We are also pleased that Governor Hogan once again signaled his support for this initiative by issuing an official proclamation to officially recognize the month of October 2021 as “Walktober” in Maryland.

Hosted by the Maryland Department of Planning (Planning), Walktober webinars — dubbed Walkinars — were again a key element of the campaign. This year, we learned about a myriad of topics, including pedestrians in history; pedestrian equity; the benefits of walking and mental health; pedestrian enforcement in Baltimore County; and pedestrian “level of comfort” in Montgomery County. 

We also were introduced to a number of exciting walking programs in the region and nationwide, including: the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian or “STEP” program; The Data Equity Project; Walk with a Doc; Maryland’s Context Driven & Pedestrian Action Plan; Frederick County’s Story Path; Baltimore City’s Made You Look campaign; and the Signal Woman and Look Alive campaigns.

Walktober also featured the seventh annual Walk Maryland Day on October 6. This year there were 72 registered walks, ranging in distance from one to four miles across 21 Maryland jurisdictions on Walk Maryland Day, and more than 40 schools registered for the statewide Walk to School Program.

Walktober had 2,184 registrations, a 64% increase from the 1,395 registrations in 2020, and each Walkinar had between 150 to 550 participants. A huge thank you to Planning staff members Michael Bayer and John Coleman for organizing and shepherding the entire series.

The month-long campaign also included over 150 walk events and programs across the state, which MDOT helped advertise through social media and the Walktober website. More than 30 articles, blog posts, other publications, and TV spots were produced by various outlets to promote Walktober – including Planning Practice Monthly!

MDOT’s use of social media was a major factor in this year’s success. Information about safe walking and walkability, as well as the webinars, registered walks, and walk events was shared with a broad constituency via Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Many stakeholders chimed in to share their Walktober experiences, garnering over 11,000 Facebook views and generating an astonishing 1.7 million reach via Twitter posts on Walk Maryland Day alone! On the heels of this great success, MDOT and Planning are already looking forward to Walktober 2022 and invite all interested to step up as potential partners (puns intended!).

For more information or if you would like to be a part of next year’s campaign, please email Francine Waters at fwaters@mdot.maryland.gov. For more information and to view Walkinar recordings, please visit mdot.maryland.gov/walktober or http://smartgrowth.org/maryland-celebrates-walktober-2021-with-a-new-series-of-walkinars.

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