By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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“Port Townsend is the right size to be a walkable town,” said Samantha Thomas, who has developed the map as part of the Transportation Lab, known as T-Lab, a citizen-led action group affiliated with Local 2020.
“You can walk Port Townsend end-to-end, east to west, north to south, in an hour.”
“The map illustrates travel time on foot between points connecting main districts — places to visit for your daily needs, whether business, shopping, entertainment or recreation,” Thomas said.
The map is not in physical form. It is viewable at http://tinyurl.com/PDN-paths.
The listed distances were taken from Google Maps and aren’t completely accurate, which Thomas doesn’t think is a problem “because we are still in beta.”
The map includes 13 contact points, from Downtown to North Beach, and breaks down the time required to walk from one intersection to the next at an average speed of 3 miles per hour.
“We need to shift our transportation habits,” Thomas said.
“Walking is a vital transportation mode that connects communities, reduces pollution, and improves health and local economy.”
The map’s existence only on the Internet allows easy adjustment.
For instance, Thomas discovered recently that Sheridan Street between Hastings Avenue and 19th Street was not marked.
She entered the number and it is now visible to anyone who logs on.
Thomas would like to hear from walkers who have used the map to get from one place to another about how much time the walk took so she can update the site.
She is not sure about if or when the map will be available in printed form.
“We want this to elevate the conversation about the benefits of walking and build a unified voice,” she said.
“We’d like to see a change in perception and behavior.
“The terrain gives us free access to physical activity.”
Thomas acknowledges some challenge, such as the lack of sidewalks on certain streets as well as inconsistent lighting.
The map also does not take elevation into account.
For instance, the distance on 12th Street from Kah Tai Lagoon to Sheridan Street is almost straight uphill and will take some people a lot longer than the 12 minutes on the map.
Thomas said one next step is a map that will indicate elevation and ways to walk from one place to the other with a minimum of hills.
In the meantime, the map can be used to make or keep appointments.
A person downtown who has a 2 p.m. meeting at the Food Co-op knows to allow about 15 minutes for the trip.
Thomas said that walking “can strengthen the social fabric” and that participants will find walking to be more convenient, socially engaging, environmentally friendly and healthy than riding in a car.
She said that if one of every 10 adults started walking regularly, the country could save $5.6 billion in health care costs and lead to “an immense reduction in carbon emissions.”
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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.