To the Editor:
Just recently, the Redfin Corporation ranked Arlington as the third in a list of the 10 most walkable communities in the country. However, Alexandria was not on the list, although it is considered by some to be one of the most walkable communities in the U.S. The most defining characteristic of a walkable city is its density. Alexandria is indeed one of the densest cities in the U.S., since we have 9,500 citizens per square mile. The experts say that a density of 4,500 per square mile is considered to be at the top of the density chart.
However, for this level of density, we must plan an environment that is safe, attractive, and comfortable for all of our numerous neighborhoods throughout the city. In extremely dense Old Town, most residents have a short walk to restaurants, schools, retail establishments, churches and so on. In order to maintain a safe environment in this area and continue to reduce dependence on automobiles, the streets must be safe for pedestrians. The streets in the Old and Historic District were laid out when the city was founded in 1749, so automobiles should not exceed posted speed limits, and the city should be mindful of ways to accommodate pedestrians and bicycles traffic.
Unfortunately, the city staff that oversees the various pedestrian/bicycle citizen work groups and commissions appears to place the needs of bicycle riders before those of pedestrians. This is a very shortsighted stance, since it negates the benefits of density, and detracts from the safety and welfare of pedestrians.
Townsend A. “Van” Van Fleet