Walk This Way

Image of a white cassette tape with "Walk This Way" written on it. The tape is sitting on an orange table.

Walk this Way (Run DMC w/Aerosmith) – While I can’t remember when or why it started, I am a walker. Do I walk for the exercise and because of the push to get 10,000 steps? Do I walk and hike just for the pleasure of exploring my surroundings? Do I walk to run errands and get out in the community to be greener and avoid driving as much? Actually, it is for all of these reasons. With the benefits that come from walking there can also be risks when sharing the road with drivers and cyclists.

As more of us are seeking to age in place, walkable communities are becoming more important than ever but not all of us are fortunate enough to live in a community that has planned for this. Many of the streets where I live do not have sidewalks or even shoulders to accommodate walkers and drivers are not always keeping an eye out for us. There are websites like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Pedestrian Safety site that offer tips for being safer as a pedestrian. Familiarizing yourself with those can be helpful.

As a driver, I also try to be aware of pedestrians. I check for pedestrians at stop signs, traffic lights, and crosswalks – looking both ways and not just the direction I am traveling. I will say as a driver in a community where I would find myself behind buses during rush hour, I also became very aware of the fact that many folks wear dark coats/clothing and rush across the street after getting off the bus, making these individuals at particular risk when it is darker out. 

So, what do I do to be safer when walking? Here are a few tips that might be useful for you:

  • I stay on sidewalks or the edge of the road when out and about.
  • I avoid walking during peak driving times.
  • I don’t walk with my headphones on (or not on too loud) so I can hear traffic coming up behind me. 
  • I am now mindful of the fact that many hybrid or electric cars are not as loud as other cars and I might not hear them, so I need to keep an eye out for traffic ahead of me, on either side, and coming up behind me.
  • If walking at night (which I did more frequently when I had dogs), I wear light or bright jackets or hats so that drivers can see me better. (Light-up dog harnesses or lights worn by pedestrians and/or their pets can also be very helpful.)

So, if you’re going to Walk This Way, keep aware of your surroundings and stay safe. And if you are driving, keep an eye out for us walkers and consider joining us sometime!