Planning Assistance in Action

Bipedalism (the ability to walk on two feet) is a core, if not the core, human characteristic. It allowed us to carry supplies and loved ones, and honed our hunting abilities. Millenia of community construction unfolded along the path of our feet, and this influence persists. Walkability is a common term in a planner’s vocabulary, an oft-cited goal in comprehensive plans, and a physical aspect of our communities attracting local families and tourists to Maryland’s streamside paths and main streets. We are comfortable addressing walkability objectives using design, land use, and infrastructure. Complete streets and shorter blocks draw pedestrians into engaging strolls along the sidewalk. An integrated mix of residential, commercial, employment, and entertainment uses make that short walk much more appealing, not to mention convenient. Traffic calming measures and pedestrian-centric intersections mute the threat posed by person and vehicle interaction. These are and will remain proven and effective planning strategies enhancing walkability. But what if the people never show up? What good is a wide sidewalk, or even better, one with outdoor seating at your favorite restaurant on a bright spring afternoon, if no one is there to use it? Planners can’t neglect the biggest part of the walkability equation – the walkers. More