Raleigh, N.C. — New and repaired sidewalks are key elements of Raleigh's effort to become more pedestrian friendly, officials say.
"We've got missing sidewalk links of all different types and sizes," said Eric Lamb, a transportation planner for Raleigh. "We're also seeing a need to not just do new infrastructure but to refurbish existing infrastructure."
The Raleigh City Council approved a comprehensive pedestrian plan in January that calls for repairing many existing sidewalks and building about 60 miles of sidewalks in areas now without them. Planners also want to make it easier for pedestrians to cross busy intersections and to use education programs to increase pedestrian safety.
"I think that's an excellent idea. A lot of people are walking – more people are walking – and we need sidewalks," said Amy Pippy, who often is forced to walk an uneven trail with her children along Avent Ferry Road to Lake Johnson Park.
Four years ago, advocacy groups Transportation for America and the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership rated Raleigh as No. 6 on its list of most dangerous metro areas nationwide for pedestrians. The groups compared the number of pedestrians deaths in a locale with the percentage of residents who walked to work.
Lamb says it will probably take 10 years to build the sidewalks.
Some projects are underway, such as new sidewalks along Lake Wheeler Road and sidewalks and pedestrian signals at the redesigned intersection of Hillsborough Street and Western Boulevard in southwest Raleigh.
"All this is laying that groundwork for a future transit station in the area, and the ultimate goal is to make it more walkable and connected," Lamb said.
About 4.5 miles of sidewalk are expected to be built in the coming year on Green Road, New Hope Church Road, Capital Boulevard, Poole Road, Rock Quarry Road, Blue Ridge Road and other streets.
A $75 million transportation bond on the October ballot includes about $1.5 million for other sidewalk projects.