We’ve gone over the numbers for cycling. Now let’s go into more detail on walking and jogging. After a two-year plateau, the number of pedestrians counted last fall was the highest since we started recording this data back in 2010, jumping 18% from 2012.
This year’s trends
Not surprisingly, we counted the largest number of pedestrians around T stops. This was especially true of Davis Square, but we also saw large numbers of pedestrians in the parts of Somerville near Porter Square and in East Somerville near Sullivan Square.
The trend of high pedestrian activity on Elm Street between Teele and Davis Squares continued, and while cyclists may find the Community Path too slow, pedestrians love it. We also found the Beacon Street corridor to be nearly as popular for pedestrians as it is for cyclists.
Interestingly, we counted more pedestrians in the evening than we did in the morning. This could be because people are both returning from work and heading out for after-work activities. It could also be that people take other forms of transportation to work, but prefer to walk home in the evenings, when there isn’t as much pressure to be on time.
Our volunteers track the movement of cyclists and pedestrians through intersections as well. Again, not surprisingly, we see people moving from residential areas toward commercial squares and transit stops in the morning, and then back again in the evening.
The number of joggers saw a moderate increase in last fall’s count, but like cycling and walking, it too reached an all-time high. As with previous years, joggers were mostly concentrated in the triangle between the Community Path and Davis and Porter Squares.
Promoting walking and pedestrian safety
Our goal is to make Somerville the most walkable city in the country, and the City has undertaken a number of efforts both to promote walking as a sustainable, healthy mode of transportation and to reduce the number of accidents involving pedestrians.
Earlier this month, the Board of Aldermen passed the first “Complete Streets” ordinance in Massachusetts, establishing a formalized vision for planning, designing, and building roadways that are safe for all users and that support and encourage non-motorized transportation.
Just a couple months ago, Shape Up Somerville partnered with the Brown School to pilot a “Safe Routes to School” program. The program creates an alternate drop-off zone for parents so that they can walk their kids the last few blocks to school, helping to instill healthy habits early in life.
Last year, we revisited our Safe-START program, first launched in 2006, which uses data and analytics to identify priorities for improvements to intersections citywide. In the 2013 report, we analyzed pedestrian accident data and 311 requests to come up with a list of intersections for short-, mid-, and long-term improvements. Over the coming years, we’ll be monitoring our progress against the priorities laid out in the report.
Of course, one of the best ways to promote walking is through fun outdoor community events, and Somerville has no shortage of those. On June 1, the City kicked off its 2014 SomerStreets program with Carnaval on East Broadway. During SomerStreets, city streets are closed to motor vehicles and opened up to walkers, runners, and cyclists.
We look forward to doing another count in September to see which trends continue and which new ones emerge. The data from these reports is critically important in planning investments that meet the demand for active transportation in Somerville and help us achieve the goal laid out in Somervision of 50% of new trips via walking, cycling, and public transit by 2050.
We appreciate the many resident volunteers who have helped us collect this data over the last several years. We wouldn’t be able to draw such a complete and informative picture without you. Thanks for helping to make Somerville a better place to walk or ride a bike.
There are lots of great events to attend in the coming months, so strap on your shoes and/or helmet, get outside, and enjoy the warmer weather!