Marlene Berlin spends a lot of time thinking about sidewalks. She's the pedestrian advocate for Iona Senior Services, and vice-chair of the D.C. Pedestrian Advisory Council.
"We live in an urban environment and sidewalks are a basic infrastructure for all modes of transportation," she says.
Berlin has studied "sidewalk gaps" in the District, and says filling these gaps should be a top priority for the city, particularly as more residents move into the city and the Baby Boom generation ages.
"As seniors age, their reaction times slow, so they often move to public transportation, and in order to access public transportation you need sidewalks," she says.
The public education campaign Street Smart says on average there are about 2,600 pedestrians and bicyclists injured on the road each year in our region. Earlier this year, Street Smart released new ads featuring people with tread marks on their faces and messages such as, "People don't come with air bags." Berlin says these public education campaigns are important, and need to be coupled with other strategies, such as working with the Department of Motor Vehicles to improve driver education.
"People do not know the law; there are certain assumptions made about jaywalking. Pedestrians have a lot of rights to cross the street in this city, and they're not given them," she says. "This city has been mostly built for automobile traffic and for getting commuters in and out, but a lot of people are moving into the city. We want to be able to traverse the city safely... so we all have a responsibility to make our street safer."
[Music: Pedestrian Safety: "Walk this Way" by David Garrett from Rock Symphonies]