Local News

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

Posted February 13, 2012 3:40 p.m. EST
Updated February 13, 2012 6:10 p.m. EST

— 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.

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.