Walkable Sacramento

With the creation of specific goals and implementation of specific policies, the City of Sacramento can become a walking-first city, in the same sense that San Francisco and Chicago are transit-first cities. 

These goals transcend the built form; they are as applicable to the suburbs as to the central city. Though the policies are in part an attempt to regenerate the suburbs that were built on a cars-first model, they are applicable everywhere in the city. 

Accomplishment of a walkable Sacramento will require that most transportation funding over the next ten years be directed to fixing pedestrian infrastructure that was poorly designed without the needs of walkers in mind. In all policy, investment, and expenditure decisions, the needs of car-free and car-light individuals and families will be considered at least co-equal with those of drivers. Much of current transportation infrastructure was created without considering those too young to drive or too old to drive safely, and who cannot or choose not to drive. A walking-first Sacramento requires that we invert this model, with walkers the top priority. 

Low income communities should receive the first improvements to the walking environment, to counteract previous disinvestment and higher traffic threats in these communities. Neighborhoods with both low-income and high walking rates will be prioritized. However, at the completion of changes in policy and infrastructure, all neighborhoods will be walkable.

Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, which requires a reduction in vehicle miles traveled, and public health benefits for physical activity, air quality, and protection from traffic hazards, will be the primary motivators of a shift to a walkable Sacramento. These and other benefits will be clearly communicated to the public to create and maintain support for the necessary changes. It is recognized that the changes necessary may make travel by privately owned vehicle somewhat slower and less convenient, but the emphasis will be on the ways in which walking is superior to driving for many trips. 

The goal of our transportation system for walkers will be zero serious injuries and fatalities, and any policy or practice that does not support this goal will be eliminated. 


  • Everyday destinations such as jobs, groceries, coffee shops and schools will be available within a 30 minute walk of every residence.
  • Walking, bicycling and transit infrastructure will be planned together so that they support each other synergistically.
  • Walking will be an option for most trips in life, and will be the preferred mode for many trips.
  • Pedestrian infrastructure will receive the majority of transportation funding until such time as it is complete and in a state of good repair.

Note: This is part one of a series of posts. I’m breaking it up both for my benefit and in the hopes that it will encourage people to comment on specific categories and issues and not just the concept as a whole. More to come…

Distracted walkers are not the problem

It has become popular recently to blame pedestrians for their own death. Some have always done this, from the beginning of the auto industry and its “jaywalking” campaign, but it is amazing how much law enforcement promotes this blame, how much the media buys into it, and how much transportation and safety agencies (Caltrans and OTS) market it. 

So let me share my experience. I walk, a lot, in addition to bicycling, a lot. Every day drivers refuse to yield my right of way when I am making legal street crossings. It makes little difference if I am waiting on the curb (where they are not required to yield, except by common courtesy), or waiting in the street, where they are absolutely required to yield to me. On multi-lane streets, when one driver stops for me, it is quite common for drivers in other lanes to not stop, though the law requires them to. I am never walking distracted, I make the personal choice to not look at my phone while crossing the street. But for anyone to suggest that it is the fault of someone walking distracted when a driver fails to yield right of way to a pedestrian, and kills them, is deeply, deeply offensive. This is similar to someone saying, well, I was just firing my gun and someone happened to walk in front of it. Cars are deadly weapons, and drivers are potential killers. It is time our society grew up and took responsibility for the harm that can be caused, and is caused, by our addiction to driving, and to the imputed freedom to run down someone who is just crossing the street.