April 16, 2019
The Walk Friendly Communities program (WFC) has awarded Portsmouth with its Silver Level Walk Friendly accreditation due to the City’s work in prioritizing pedestrians and creating safer, comfortable and inviting places to walk. Other communities recognized this year by WFC include San Francisco, California, who received Platinum Level, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Lakeland, Florida, who received Bronze Level.
WFC is a national recognition program developed to encourage cities and towns across the United States to develop and support walking environments with an emphasis on safety, mobility, access and comfort. Sponsored by FedEx and managed by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center (HSRC), the program distinguishes communities leading the way in walkability and seeks to share their stories to inspire other communities to move towards their own innovative solutions. In the ten years since the program began, it has recognized 73 cities across 32 States with Walk Friendly designations.
“We’re thrilled to celebrate ten years of Walk Friendly Communities by welcoming new cities and towns to the program,” said Dan Gelinne, WFC program manager. “It is especially encouraging to see such impressive programs from a wide range of community sizes.”
With a population of just under 22,000 people, Portsmouth is the smallest Silver Level Walk Friendly Community, devoting more energy and staff time to pedestrian issues than many other larger communities. This includes a wide scope of policies, plans and infrastructure improvements that include the:
- Walk Friendly Community Policy;
- Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan;
- Complete Streets Program; and
- Safe Routes to School Program.
“Receiving this designation by WFC validates the success of implementing our various plans and guidelines over the past several years,” said Planning Director Juliet Walker. “We’re proud of our work in increasing nonmotorized safety and access, and encouraging more active transportation overall. Our team is excited to build on this momentum with future projects such as the North Mill Pond Greenway, ongoing Market Street gateway improvements and much more.”
About the WFC Program
Walk Friendly Communities awards designations from bronze to platinum to participating communities with a commitment to improving and sustaining walkability and pedestrian safety through comprehensive programs, plans, and policies. Modeled after the League of American Bicyclists’ “Bicycle Friendly Communities,” WFC is the first program to highlight walkability initiatives and programs. At the core of the WFC program is a comprehensive web-based assessment tool that evaluates community walkability and pedestrian safety related to engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, evaluation, and planning. The assessment tool is intended to both evaluate conditions for walking and provide communities with specific feedback and ideas for improving walkability. WFC is sponsored by FedEx and maintained by the UNC Highway Safety Research Center. It is supported by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC), which is funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation.