One Man's Guerrilla Campaign Makes a City More Walkable

© Walk Raleigh

Most of the ways to make cities more walkable are in the hands of the government, but one North Carolinian wasn't willing to wait for the Raleigh city government to take action to encourage its residents to walk instead of drive around town. Matt Tomasulo posted 27 signs in three locations, with directions and estimated walking times to various landmarks and attractions: "It's a 9 minute walk to the NC bell tower;" "It's a 16 minute walk to Seabord Station," etc.

In a BBC report, Tomasulo called "Walk Raleigh" "self-motivated and unsanctioned." After about a month, the wayfinding signs were taken down, but the city council has already (and unanimously) approved a measure to reinstall them as a pilot project.

It's a simple, smart idea: the signs aren't pushy or annoying; they provide information that encourages passersby to consider walking, rather than automatically hopping in the car.

Raleigh Planning Director Mitchell Silver calls Walk Raleigh "very cool." He explains in the BBC report that newer cities like Raleigh "were built during the era of the subdivision," when walkability was not an issue and the single family home was seen as the ideal setup.

The Walk Raleigh project fits into a pattern of "guerrilla" actions- people taking matters into their own hands, painting pedestrian and bike lanes in cities are far flung as Mexico City and Sao Paulo.

Tomasulo took care to ensure that his signs could be easily removed, attaching them to utility poles with zip lines, and his walk on the wrong side of the law has worked out. Hopefully this will take off in Raleigh and spread to other cities as well.

Tags: Cities | North Carolina | Walking