Programs Key to Culture of Walking in Arlington

Arlington County, VA, was recently profiled in the book America’s Walking Renaissance,  which highlights nine communities around the country and the ways they are embracing walking, and we at Walk Friendly Communities  were not the least bit surprised at their inclusion.

Arlington’s walking e-newsletter sums up their attitude towards pedestrians when it describes walking as “a gateway to increased physical activity and a stimulus to safer, more livable and equitably prosperous communities.” The monthly pedestrian newsletter is one of a wealth of resources available to the walking public in Arlington. WalkArlington, part of the Active Transportation program of Arlington County’s government, works to both encourage walking through a number of outreach programs and to promote safety through innovative safety campaigns.

When Arlington County was originally designated as a Gold Level Walk Friendly Community, they celebrated by creating their Walk Friendly Walkabouts,  a recreational walking program. Beginning with four citizen – nominated neighborhoods in 2012, the self-guided Walkabouts now number 25. Newly debuted routes are guided by members of the community, and maps are available in downloadable PDFs which are available online as self-guided tour options. This spring WalkArlington launched a new series of new community walking tours designed to highlight Arlington’s walkability and vibrant livable neighborhoods. WalkArlington’s Rosslyn Walking Food Tour was created to build community and discover hidden gems and new hotspots within the Arlington’s walkable neighborhoods.

The county’s Active Transportation team gets out into the community to collaborate with residents as often as possible. “Lighten Up, Arlington”, a campaign timed around the shift to Daylight Savings Time, features pop-up events held to distribute free lights, reflective vests and reflective accessories that improve visibility for other road and trail users. Arlington’s ongoing safety and courtesy campaign, targeted at all street users, is called “Be a PAL/Share Our Streets”, or Be Safe, Be Seen, Be a PAL.”  PAL stands for Predictable/Alert/Lawful, and uses educational materials online and in print to demonstrate how easy sharing the street safely can be. PAL has recently added volunteer Ambassadors to help spread the word.

photo : Sam Kittner/

Having  just approved pedestrian-only and shared streets the future looks bright for Arlington County. With the overall continuing emphasis on courtesy and sharing as key parts of its active transportation program, the community will only continue to make great strides.