Local News

Raleigh man's mission: Get more people to walk downtown

Posted February 13, 2012

— It’s easy to get in a car and drive down the street, but a Raleigh man has started a new project to remind people that walking is an option.

Matt Tomasulo says he got the idea for Walk Raleigh after a friend mentioned that it took only a few minutes to walk between Glenwood South and Seaboard Station.

“That kind of got me thinking, ‘Wow, it really isn’t that far to walk in Raleigh,’” he said.

Tomasulo, an urban planning student, installed 27 signs at three intersections in central Raleigh last month, with help from friends. People can scan the high-tech signs with their smartphones and get a customized walking route on Google Maps.

“Sometimes you can end up taking longer on the bus, so if the weather's nice, there's no reason not to walk,” said North Carolina State University student Heath Kent.

Tomasulo said he hopes the signs will encourage people to walk, and not just for the health benefits.

“There are going to be more people in the street, more social interaction. It really adds to the experience and ambiance of downtown,” he said.

Tomasulo's project is getting international attention. He says BBC News is coming to Raleigh Tuesday to shoot a story about his signs, and he hopes the coverage will help him expand the program.

Matt Tomasulo Raleigh man wants more people walking downtown

Tomasulo has created other projects, including one called “North Is That Way” in New York City. The project places temporary stickers at subway stops to help pedestrians find their way around the city.

He also founded City Fabric, an online site that sells T-shirts and prints featuring maps of cities.

He's completing a graduate program in city and regional planning at N.C. State and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

22 Comments

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  • claygriffith01 Feb 23, 3:22 p.m.

    Don't know which downtown Raleigh has all the criminals and beggars, but it's not the one I love to tromp. Use common sense after dark, stay out of the fringes, and OK, do avoid the park in Moore Square. But during the weekday, what's wrong with walking? -storchheim

    Most of us actually work on Week Days. The times that most people would be off work and going downtown are the times when the crooks and panhandlers are at their worst. I don't know about you, but I'd rather not take my kid to walk by a bunch of beggars staring and giving dirty looks because I don't part with my hard earned money for them to have another fix.

  • lmgraham13 Feb 17, 10:00 a.m.

    Hey, this is great! Keep up the great work!

  • honans77 Feb 13, 7:46 p.m.

    I would walk but it is downright dangerous to do so. If you watch the film clip that went with this article you will see why. The crossing has a count down timer on it to say when to stop walking across the intersection...it clearly has 7 seconds left when a huge bus comes around and goes through the intersection. I have had to run here many times to avoid being hit

  • ILoveDowntownRaleigh Feb 13, 7:25 p.m.

    the same folks who are afraid to cross over the border into Durham are probably afraid of downtown Raleigh :-p just use common sense and you will be ok....this tends to apply no matter where you are in the Triangle...@mmtlash

    and anywhere else in the world! :-)

  • snowl Feb 13, 7:12 p.m.

    Don't walk alone and bring a cell phone....along with your common sense.

  • mmtlash Feb 13, 6:52 p.m.

    the same folks who are afraid to cross over the border into Durham are probably afraid of downtown Raleigh :-p just use common sense and you will be ok....this tends to apply no matter where you are in the Triangle...

  • ILoveDowntownRaleigh Feb 13, 6:42 p.m.

    As for the whiners about "homeless" people - welcome to American, We've got the upper 1 per cent (some of whom think they deserve to be president) and the other 99 percent. Some 99 percenters need directions to the art museum, some of them need directions to the nearest shelter - either way, I'm glad to help!

    If u r a 1 per center, I'm afraid I'm going to need a copy of your tax records (since so many of you stash OUR money in overseas accounts) and your philanthropic record, since I consider u morally obliged to give extra help! Cheers all!

  • storchheim Feb 13, 6:35 p.m.

    Don't know which downtown Raleigh has all the criminals and beggars, but it's not the one I love to tromp. Use common sense after dark, stay out of the fringes, and OK, do avoid the park in Moore Square. But during the weekday, what's wrong with walking?

  • piknowles4 Feb 13, 6:35 p.m.

    The people that make remarks about panhandlers and getting robbed obviously don't go downtown much.Of course there are panhandlers,they are common place these days.However I fail to see the roving bands of robbers you folks are afraid of. I walk downtown often and never haveany trouble from either group.

  • ILoveDowntownRaleigh Feb 13, 6:32 p.m.

    I'll try not be surprised that these strap-on messages attracted attention. I walk downtown Raleigh several times a week and have always considered Cameron Village, the NC State campus and Hillsborough strip, Glenwood South, the Seaboard Village, and Downtown from Shaw College to Peace College -- all of it to be part of Downtown and in easy walking range, except maybe in bad weather - which is rare in Raleigh. And BTW I am not a native of this city.

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