You’ll forgive Arlington leaders if they lace up their sneakers and take a victory lap of sorts, after the county ascended to the top tier of a national walkability ranking.
Arlington and New York City on June 21 were enshrined into the Platinum level of the Walk Friendly Communities program, joining three other localities (San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, Ore.) that sit atop the walkability pyramid.
Being recognized by the organization “highlights Arlington’s ongoing commitment to increasing walkability throughout our neighborhoods,” County Board Chairman Katie Cristol said in a statement.
Arlington previously had been honored at the Gold level, and the quest for Platinum – the county government does like its accolades, all will agree – may have spurred further efforts in the walkability realm.
“We are committed, through many infrastructure projects and countywide initiatives, to continuing to make walking a viable, enjoyable and safe way for both residents and visitors to get around Arlington,” Cristol said.
The ranking and the Walk Friendly Communities initiative are overseen by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, which on June 21 also issued four Gold-level, four Silver-level and 13 Bronze-level designations for 2022.
“We are impressed by the commitments these communities have made to plan and design their communities around people on foot,” said Dan Gelinne, the program manager. “We hope these communities can offer inspiration to others as they work to prioritize pedestrian safety and walkability.”
In the 12 years since the program began, it has recognized 82 cities and towns across 32 states with the designations. Other Virginia localities on the list are Charlottesville at the Gold level; Alexandria at the Silver level; and Portsmouth at the Bronze level. Reston currently is in honorable-mention status.
(For the complete list and more information, see the Website at www.walkfriendly.org.)
In addition to Arlington and the Big Apple at the Platinum level, the following localities also were added onto the list in 2022:
• GOLD: Ann Arbor, Mich.; Chicago; Corvallis, Ore.; Minneapolis.
• SILVER: Alexandria; Cary, N.C.; Lawrence, Kan.; Ypsilanti, Mich.
• BRONZE: Durango, Colo.; Fayetteville, Ark.; Fergus Falls, Minn.; Flagstaff, Ariz.; Gainesville, Fla.; Mount Lebanon, Pa.; Northampton, Mass.; Rochester, Minn.; Sitka, Alaska; Stevens Point, Wisc.; Wilsonville, Ore.; and York, Pa.