Recently, the Surgeon General released a nation wide call for action to get people in America to walk more and for cities to provide more walkable areas for citizens. This is a movement designed to provide healthy and safe exercising options.
The Surgeon General is making this push because the benefits for regular walking and having a walkable community are numerous. They range from the obvious health benefits to economic benefits, as businesses in walkable communities tend to be more successful.
In Sacramento, many people are faced with rough patches on their way home where walking down the street becomes more risky. One south Sacramento example is a section of the 65th street expressway that has a high number of pedestrians but no sidewalk available. The section between 24th Avenue and Fruitridge Road has a short sidewalk which ends suddenly and forces pedestrians to walk on the side of the road to avoid a ditch.
Many of the pedestrians are high school students attending Hiram Johnson and this is their everyday route home. These students are walking close to expressway traffic that averages above 45 miles per hour. Most other residential streets near this one have a speed limit of 25 miles per hour, but this route is frequently taken because it is the most direct.
A recent study from the Embarcadero Road Traffic Calming Project shows that if someone is hit by a vehicle going 20 miles per hour the chance of death is 5 percent. If that same car is going 40 miles per hour, the chance of dying jumps to 85 percent. Like along the no-sidewalk portion of the 65th Expressway, both pedestrians and drivers must take extra care given the high speed and close proximity to walkers.
Many groups in Sacramento, including those working with the California Endowmen’s Building Healthy Communities initiative, are getting together to address this issue. One such group is Walk Sacramento and organizers are looking for volunteers to work toward a zero pedestrian fatality rate.
You can also go here to check out the Surgeon General’s video for a call to walk more.