Port Townsend Walking Map: Shows where to go, how long it takes to walk there

By Samantha Thomas Special to the Leader
Posted 4/21/15

There are few things more basic to human life than walking.

Over the last several decades, we have made walking unnatural. What once was an easy 20-minute walk has now, for many reasons, been …

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Port Townsend Walking Map: Shows where to go, how long it takes to walk there

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There are few things more basic to human life than walking.

Over the last several decades, we have made walking unnatural. What once was an easy 20-minute walk has now, for many reasons, been engineered out of our lives.

The design of our built environment – our city streets, our open spaces, even the location and positioning of our buildings – influences our everyday lives by either encouraging or discouraging us to move naturally.

The good news: The simple act of walking offers huge benefits to our health, our vitality and prosperity of our community. For example, converting one trip a day, or week, to start will likely help you enjoy more energy, experience less stress and anxiety, and feel more creative. You’ll know your neighbors and neighborhood better. Simply put, you’ll have more fun.

The walking boom has arrived.

We know that walkable communities provide great gains. Walking contributes to a cleaner environment, improves individual health and well-being, connects people to their community and keeps more money in the local economy.

Walkable communities improve accessibility for everyone, making moving naturally the easy, affordable, fun and attractive choice.

Walkable communities are not just an urban, or big city, thing. Thriving communities of any size share a common trait: They are human-scale, putting people first in the design of their city.

Walking will not come by building more sidewalks; it calls for many details, including street connectivity, low vehicle speeds and place making. Walkability calls for holistic and complete town-making by which:

• There are destinations that are accessible in a walkable scale.

•There is diversity, or mix of uses – living, retail, grocery, clinics, schools – located on a walkable scale.

• There is density or a sufficient number of people so that costs are contained.

• There is place making through design, creating places where people want to come and linger longer.

• There is proximity to transit.

• There are incentives that encourage walking (or biking or transit use); for example, better managed parking.

Port Townsend has many of these characteristics, from low-speed streets to more than 22 miles of off-street trails for people walking, biking or riding horses and that connect to key destinations – downtown, Uptown, the hospital and schools.

But as a community, could we write a community “prescription” to encourage more people to walk (or roll on a bike or take transit)? What would this look like?

PUTTING A SPRING IN YOUR STEP

To start, check out the conceptual walking times map at

L2020.org. Located in the website’s “Transportation” section, the map was created by the Transportation Lab, a citizen-led action group of the Local 20/20.

The map illustrates approximate travel time on foot, between points connecting main districts – places to visit for your daily needs. The intent of the map is to help remind each of us that many trips fall within a 5- to 30-minute (quarter-mile to 1 mile) walk. More than a quarter of trips made by car are within a mile of home. Pick one of these trips and convert it to a walking trip.

Walking can be a social occasion as much as it can be an exercise regime.

The point is, there are many steps we can take to start to shift our behaviors and make moving naturally, well, natural again.

A FEW OTHER STEPS

• Form a walking (or biking) group.

• Invite family and friends for a walk, perhaps followed by lunch, coffee, dinner or a movie.

• Convert coffee breaks or meetings into strolls. 

• Recruit your coworkers for a jaunt around the block, a great way to relax during your day or get the creative juices flowing to solve that problem on your mind.

•“Walk ’n’ roll” your kids to school, a fun family routine of walking or biking to school. Can’t do it every day? Collaborate with other parents and the school to create “walking school buses.”

• Mark your calendars: May 6 is National Bike to School Day and Oct. 7 is National Walk to School Day.

• Join a community garden. With more than 25 community gardens in Port Townsend, they are a great way to get out, move, connect with neighbors and grow your own food.

• Park once and shop until you drop.

• Breathe in the salty sea air by parking once, perhaps a little farther away, and then strolling to and from the shops on your list.

Enjoy setting afoot.

(Samantha Thomas has lived in Port Townsend for four years. She works at Blue Zones, supporting communities in becoming more walkable. She lives in the Uptown District and starts her day with a walk. Her favorite walk is through Chetzemoka Park to the beach.)

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