HANOVER, MD – The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) is partnering with agencies, nonprofits, and communities across Maryland to host the second annual Walktober, a monthlong celebration with activities and virtual events promoting the state’s official exercise: walking. Walktober 2021 includes the seventh annual Walk Maryland Day on October 6, as well as several local events and an online webinar series focusing on pedestrian safety and health, and on walking as a commuting option.
For many, walking is an important element of life for health, transportation, and overall well-being. Walktober calls on all Marylanders to experience the many benefits of walking.
Maryland designated walking as the official state exercise in October 2008. As part of its focus on walkable communities and pedestrian safety, MDOT is hosting a website, mdot.maryland.gov/walktober, with information about Walktober, Walk Maryland Day, and statewide events, as well as registration for the webinar series.
Learn more about Walk Maryland Day and register for an event HERE.
“MDOT is excited to serve as a central resource for Walktober and the annual Walk Maryland Day,” MDOT Secretary Greg Slater said. “MDOT strives to improve walkability within communities as a critical component of our transportation network. Events such as Walktober help us share ideas with experts, local officials, and residents and explore ways we can work together to improve pedestrian safety and access across Maryland.”
Walk Maryland Day is scheduled for Wednesday, October 6, and Marylanders are encouraged to spend part of that day taking a walk. Walk leaders will host registered Walk Maryland Day events across the state, and all Marylanders are invited to register walks at locations of their choice, whether they walk alone or with others. Marylanders can become Walk Maryland Day “Sole Mates” by registering to join one of the official walks.
Everyone is also invited to sign up for the 90-minute webinars on walkability and walking – or “walkinars” – that will be held virtually from 10:30 a.m. to noon October 7, 14, 21, and 28. The walkinar series features local, state, and national speakers. Panelists will share resources to help build, strengthen and sustain partnerships to encourage walking, and will discuss tools and technologies used here and across the country to promote pedestrian access and safety.
The series is open to all – from pedestrian enthusiasts and advocates to local residents, students, officials, and planners. The series provides the American Institute of Certified Planners with 1.5 Certification Maintenance credits per session. Topics include:
- October 7, Taking Fresh Steps Toward a More Walk-Friendly Maryland
This session will focus on efforts at the national level to promote walkability. Panelists will discuss how infrastructure has evolved from an historical and technological perspective and the challenges facing pedestrians today. Panelists include Timothy Taylor of the Federal Highway Administration’s Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP) program; Professor Peter Norton of the University of Virginia; and Anat Caspi of the University of Washington’s Transportation Data Equity Initiative.?
- October 14, Walking Toward a Healthier Maryland
This webinar will highlight walking – for recreation or for transportation – as a core component of a healthful lifestyle, and how MDOT and partner agencies are working to provide safe and equitable access to healthful walking opportunities. Panelists include Michael B. Friedman of AARP; Dr. Olubukola Alonge of the Maryland Department of Health; and Dr. David Sabgir, founder of Walk with a Doc.
- October 21, Pedestrian Safety: Trends, Measures and Solutions
This talk covers themes of planning, safety, equity and enforcement related to pedestrian access. Speakers will highlight planning and safety techniques to help measure and improve the quality of our infrastructure. Eli Glazier of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC) will discuss efforts to calculate a “Pedestrian Level of Comfort” in Montgomery County, and Kandese Holford of the MDOT State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) will talk about efforts to ensure roadway design features reflect user needs and land-use contexts. Other speakers include Angie Schmitt, author of “Right of Way: Race, Class and the Silent Crisis of Pedestrian Deaths in America;” and Sgt. Tom Morehouse, Baltimore County Police Department.
- October 28, Great Partners and Creative Approaches for Promoting Safe Walk Opportunities
Panelists will discuss how community partners promote safe walking in cities as well as the suburbs, including grants from the MDOT Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA) Maryland Highway Safety Office that support the Made You Look and Look Alive campaigns around Baltimore. Catherine Sorensen will discuss the partnership between the University of Maryland Extension and LiveWell Frederick to create Story Path, an initiative encouraging walk events for all ages; Quinton Batts and Vilde Ulset of the Maryland Institute College of Arts (MICA) will discuss the Made You Look program; and Kenna Swift will speak about the Signal Woman campaign offering pedestrian safety tips.
To register for the free Walktober walkinar series, click HERE.
In addition to MDOT and the organizations noted above, partners in Walktober include the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Maryland Department of Commerce and the Office of Tourism, the Maryland Department of Planning, the Maryland State Department of Education, the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, America Walks, American Discovery Trail, Commuter Choice, Gunpowder Valley Conservancy, Sustainable Maryland, the Wilmington Area Planning Council, WTS International, the Gaithersburg Germantown Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary of Kent Island and agencies and organizations in Anne Arundel, Calvert, Garrett, Harford, Howard, Montgomery, Prince George’s and Worcester counties.
What Partners are Saying About Walktober 2021
?“As Marylanders enjoy Walktober, it’s the perfect time to remind pedestrians and drivers about the importance of sharing the road. As daylight hours get shorter and more pedestrians are out, drivers should remain vigilant and stop for pedestrians. Pedestrians are reminded to use crosswalks and wait for the appropriate signals. If we all remember to Be the Share The Road Driver, we’ll get to our destination safely.”
- Chrissy Nizer, Administrator, MDOT Motor Vehicle Administration
and Governor Larry Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative
“The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is proud to join the Walktober campaign again this year – a great way to highlight the health and environmental benefits of walking. It is also an important reminder of the responsibility we all share regarding pedestrian safety whether we are on Maryland’s public thoroughfares or most remote trails.”
- Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, Secretary, Maryland Department of Natural Resources
“Walking 30 minutes a day can improve an individual’s overall health. We urge Marylanders who are already walking each day to keep it up, and for others to consider participating in this healthy and accessible form of exercise.”
- Dennis R. Schrader, Secretary, Maryland Department of Health
“The cooler temperatures make October an ideal time for pedestrians to be outside walking and enjoying all of the natural beauty Maryland offers, but decreased daylight hours can make pedestrian visibility a challenge. As we celebrate Walktober and MDOT SHA continues to work to identify and implement infrastructure improvements that enhance pedestrian safety, both motorists and pedestrians should remember that safety is a two-way street, and they must stay alert for each other. Motorists must also park their phones, avoid distractions, obey the speed limit and stop for pedestrians.”
- Tim Smith, Administrator, MDOT State Highway Administration
“This year is all about rebuilding connections, so don’t forget to reconnect with all there is to discover by encountering Maryland’s various landscapes on foot. Walktober encourages us all to consider how walking improves our health, our well-being, our economy, and our overall quality of life.”
- Rob McCord, Secretary, Maryland Department of Planning
“Fresh air and exercise can do wonders for the body and the soul. Maryland’s trail system, which is second-to-none, offers many chances to enjoy the diverse natural beauty of our state on foot.”
- Kelly Schulz, Secretary, Maryland Department of Commerce
“We are pleased to come together with MDOT and other partners to promote our state exercise. We are passionate about educating Marylanders about health and wellness, and making our state a safe place for pedestrians.”
- ?Carrie Sorenson, Senior Agent Associate, University of Maryland Extension