Amy's Story: Walking as a Way of Connecting
[Amy Lewin is a Senior Transportation Planner with GO Boulder and is leading the city's Pedestrian Plan update.]
A love of walking was instilled in me at an early age. I remember walking to school in fourth grade while carrying my tiny violin. My mom was a math professor, and my dad had a background in urban history. He worked as a planner for the city of New Orleans and other organizations. I kind of blended the two—I ended up in engineering, then went into transportation planning. I’m just fascinated by cities—the way they work on multiple levels and the characteristics that influence your quality of life. For me, a big portion of that is having choices for getting around. That’s why I love this idea: fundamentally, as humans, we are built to walk. Other transportation alternatives are really just walk extenders. Bikes, buses, and other vehicles offer a way to go further if I don’t have as much time or if I have to cover more distance.
When I got hired by GO Boulder, they specifically had a need for someone to lead the update of the Pedestrian Plan, which hasn’t been substantially updated since 1996. To really think about a person’s comfort and perception of safety, rather than simply saying “a sidewalk is a sidewalk is a sidewalk," brings a new level of analysis to our work, and I’m really interested in exploring the influence of the built environment on making a person feel like they belong. I am jazzed by the idea that walking not only has benefits for the individual but also builds community—and I’ve seen that firsthand with our walking programs and talking with other community members who care passionately about walking and making the pedestrian experience even better in Boulder.
That’s why I love our partnership with Walk2Connect for the Boulder Walks Program. I really believe in what Walk2Connect stands for: the very premise that walking connects humans is amazing and true. As a city organization, GO Boulder is all about building community and improving quality of life—connecting people with each other and with the places they want to go by providing a myriad of travel options. By partnering with Walk2Connect and offering walking events to the community, we’re fostering a stronger community and social connectedness. What I love is that it’s also an opportunity to share more about the projects we’re doing and to hear what’s on the minds of community members. It’s a remarkable engagement tool–much more relaxed than an open house, for example. I really value all of the events and activities we have done with Walk2Connect and am excited that we have gotten such great support to continue and expand them.
My default mode of getting around now is walking. It takes me a little over 20 minutes to walk to work from home through my beautiful, tree-lined neighborhood (that I discovered through a Boulder Walks “Walk 360”event). Usually, I see more people out than cars. I love the flowers and the art along the way, and the mountains are so close.
I love having the ultimate freedom to decide how to travel, even on the fly. Often, I will walk for awhile and then hop on B-Cycle and bike the rest of the way to my destination. I am grateful to help create (and enjoy!) such wonderful transportation options.