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City of Decatur receives Gold Walk Friendly community designation

Decatur

City of Decatur receives Gold Walk Friendly community designation

Downtown Decatur. Photo by Dean Hesse.
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Decatur, GA — The city of Decatur is being recognized for promoting pedestrian safety.

“The city of Decatur has been recognized by the Walk Friendly Communities Program as a Gold Level Walk Friendly Community (WFC) for its commitment to prioritize pedestrians and create safe, comfortable and inviting places to walk,” a press release from the city says. “Decatur has previously been recognized as Silver Walk Friendly Communities, and the new designation demonstrates a sustained commitment to prioritizing people on foot. Decatur is the smallest city of its size to achieve gold recognition!”

Mayor Patti Garrett said she was “proud” of the city’s accomplishment.

“As an avid walker and former Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, I am extremely proud of the efforts of the city of Decatur to earn the designation of a Gold Walk Friendly city,” Garrett said. “The benefits of walking, to both physical and mental health, are well-documented and have been especially important over the last year.”

According to the press release, WFC is a national recognition program that encourages cities and towns in the U.S. to develop safer walking environments. WFC encourages cities to promote safety, mobility, access and comfort.

“Sponsored by FedEx and managed by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center (HSRC), the program distinguishes communities leading the way in walkability and seeks to share their stories to inspire other communities to move toward their own innovative solutions,” the press release from the city says. “In the 11 years since the program began, it has recognized 78 cities across 32 States with Walk Friendly designations.”

Here are the highlights of Decatur’s application:

– Despite the challenges brought on by COVID-19, the City was able to continue numerous outreach efforts and public events that encourage people to walk. These events include FAB First FridayWalk There! Decatur events, and a range of other encouragement campaigns to promote active transportation and health.

– The City updated its Community Transportation Plan in 2018, which drives its investment in walking and pedestrian-oriented programs. The chapters devoted to pedestrians and bicyclists address existing services for these users, as well as priority networks and a list of recommended improvements and policies.

– Decatur updated its shared parking ordinance to reduce parking minimums and set new maximums for parking. They are incentivizing mixed-use developments with shared parking allowance, in one case reducing 510 spaces to 350 spaces.

– For a small community, Decatur has a dense and walkable core where nearly all trips are possible on foot. Their community is well connected to other destinations throughout the metro Atlanta region by MARTA transit services, and the City’s transit stations are optimized for bicycling and walking connections.

– Connections to regional destinations are at the center of the City’s partnership with the PATH Foundation, which was formalized with the Decatur PATH Foundation Connectivity and Implementation Plan. This collaboration is working toward nearly ten miles of bicycle and pedestrian trail improvements along seven segments that will create critical regional connections to Decatur.

– Decatur has had a strong Safe Routes to School program since 2005, when it participated in a pilot program with GDOT.

Source: City of Decatur

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