On March 14, 2022, CHI member and Redstone Center Director Dr. William Dietz testified before the DC Council’s Committee on Transportation & the Environment. He voiced his support of the Walk Without Worry Amendment Act of 2021, which would require design and engineering standards for safer pedestrian infrastructure in the District of Columbia, including the installation of continuous sidewalks, raised crosswalks, and raised intersections.
Dietz cited that improving the walkability of the District would serve as a Double Duty solution that benefits both planetary and human health, stating that “Improving pedestrian infrastructure will have benefits for both climate and health. Improved walkability will increase opportunities for physical activity, increased access to public transit, and reduce pedestrian injury and death, all of which will encourage increasingly active lifestyles among residents, and simultaneously address climate change.”
In the realm of human health, improved pedestrian infrastructure allows for increased physical activity. Low amounts of physical activity are associated with diabetes, chronic disease, and severe COVID-19, all of which are conditions that disproportionately affect vulnerable populations. Dietz affirms that “Upstream approaches like improved walking infrastructure are more likely to address health disparities for socially and economically disadvantaged populations that face higher rates of chronic disease and lower physical activity levels.” Increasing the ability to take active transport (via walking, biking, or public transit) also increases social connectivity which can improve mental health.
In terms of emissions, Dietz asserts that reducing car use in the District is essential to meeting emissions goals. “Since passenger vehicles account for nearly 20% of the District’s greenhouse gas emissions, significant shifts to active transport are essential to achieve our goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.”
Watch the full testimony here (timestamp 1:13:25): https://dccouncil.gov/event/transportation-the-environment-public-hearing-16/