FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: MDOT Public Affairs
David Broughton, 410-865-1029
Jim Joyner, 410-865-1030
Monthlong Celebration Includes Walk Maryland Day on October 5
HANOVER, MD (September 26, 2022) – Maryland's official state exercise – walking – will step into the spotlight next month when the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and partner agencies, nonprofits and communities across the state host the third annual Walktober celebration. Festivities planned throughout October include the eighth annual Walk Maryland Day on October 5, as well as an online series of “Walkinars" focusing on pedestrian safety, health and commuting.
“Walking is an important and beneficial part of our lives, providing Marylanders with transportation as well as health, well-being, recreation and quality time with our friends and families," Governor Larry Hogan said. “The celebration of Walktober reminds us of the simple pleasure of enjoying Maryland's beauty on foot, and encourages us all to be mindful and aware of pedestrians in our communities."
To help promote activities and share information throughout Walktober, MDOT is hosting the website, mdot.maryland.gov/walktober, with information about Walktober and Walk Maryland Day, as well as registration for the webinar series.
Walk Maryland Day on Wednesday, October 5, encourages Marylanders 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 to take part at locations of their choice, whether they walk alone or with others. Marylanders can become a Walk Maryland Day “Sole Mates" by registering to join one of the official walks.
“Walking was named as Maryland's official state exercise in October 2008, and MDOT recognizes the essential role walking plays in our state's transportation network," said MDOT Secretary James F. Ports, Jr. “I encourage everyone to become 'Soul Mates' during Walktober. Enjoy the outdoors and explore ways we can work together to improve pedestrian safety and access across Maryland."
Everyone also is invited to sign up for the 90-minute webinars – or “Walkinars" – that will be held virtually 10:30 a.m. to noon on Thursdays, October 6, 13, 20 and 27. During the sessions, local, state and national speakers will share resources to help build, strengthen and sustain partnerships to encourage walking, and discuss tools and technologies in Maryland and across the country to promote pedestrian access and safety.
The series is open to all, and provides American Institute of Certified Planners with 1.5 Certification Maintenance credits per session. Topics include:
October 6, National Perspectives on Walking and Pedestrian Safety
- This session will focus on national efforts to promote pedestrian safety – where things stand and how the country is moving forward. Panelists include Thomas B. Chapman of the National Transportation Safety Board; Mike McGinn, executive director of America Walks; and Laura Mehegan, senior research advisor at AARP.
October 13, Equity and Walkability: Improving Pedestrian Infrastructure in Underserved Neighborhoods
This session will examine how nondrivers are organizing to improve pedestrian infrastructure to better serve people of all ages, as well as for those who cannot drive, do not have access to a car or who cannot afford to own or maintain a vehicle. Panelists include Anna Ziwarts, director of the Disability Mobility Initiative Program; Christina Jang, technical assistance program manager for the Trust for Public Land, and James Rojas and John Kamp, of Place It!
October 20, Walking and Public Health: Research Insights into the Value of Active Living
- Pedometers, other wearable devices and phone applications enable walkers to quantify and monitor their steps. This session will discuss how steps can improve health, and the benefits of mindfulness in our everyday lives. Panelists include Pedro Saint-Maurice, Ph.D., National Cancer Institute, Metabolic Epidemiology Branch; and Dhruti U. Patel, MD, educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, University of Maryland Extension.
October 27, Expanding Access to Pedestrian Infrastructure and Improving Public Safety
- Using tools and case studies from Maryland and beyond, the final Walkinar will look at how transit and pedestrian infrastructure can be improved to expand access and enhance public safety. Panelists include Stephanie DiPetrillo, senior research specialist at the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center; David Anspacher, transportation supervisor, Montgomery County Planning Department; Jesse Cohn McGowan, AICP, transportation planner, Montgomery County Planning Department; and Carden Wyckoff, disability advocate.
For more information on Walktober or to register for events, go to mdot.maryland.gov/walktober. Follow updates on Twitter @WalkCycleMD and @MDOTNews, on Facebook at facebook.com/WalkCycleMD or facebook.com/CommuterChoiceMaryland/ and on Linkedin at linkedin.com/in/commuterchoicemd/.
In addition to MDOT business units, Walktober 2022 partners include agencies and departments in Anne Arundel, Calvert, Harford, Montgomery and Prince George's counties, AARP Maryland, AARP National, America Walks, Calvert Nature Society, Gaithersburg Germantown Chamber of Commerce, Gunpowder Valley Conservancy, Just Walk Worcester, Baltimore Metropolitan Council, Rotary of Kent Island, University of Maryland Extension, Vision Zero Prince George's, Walk with a Doc, Wilmington Area Planning Council, The Trust for Public Land, Garrett Trails, Howard County Local Health Improvement Coalition, WalkWicomico, Sustainable Maryland, Maryland State Department of Education, Maryland Department of Commerce, Maryland Department of Health, Maryland Department of Aging, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Department of Planning, Maryland Department of Tourism, Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, WTS, Commuter Choice Maryland, National Kidney Foundation and Maryland Planning Commissioners Association. The National Institutes of Health also collaborates with the Walktober team.
What Partners are Saying About Walktober 2022
“Walking, particularly in green spaces, can improve cardiovascular health and reduce stress. The Walktober campaign highlights these health benefits and serves as a reminder of the responsibility we all share regarding pedestrian safety on our roads and in our recreational areas."
“Maryland weather in October is an ideal time to get outside to enjoy clear, crisp air and the beautiful autumn views on a walk. We are urging motorists to avoid distractions, follow the rules of the road and be aware of increased pedestrian and bike activities to ensure all of us get home safely."
Tim Smith, Administrator, Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration
“We are all pedestrians at some point in the day – whether it's to walk your dog, walk children to the bus stop, or exercise outdoors – and Walktober is a great time to remind all road users of the importance of doing their part to share the road. Pedestrians are reminded to cross at designated crossings when possible and obey crossing signals. Drivers should slow down, pay full attention to the road and be alert for pedestrians, especially in areas where high foot traffic is expected."
Chrissy Nizer, Administrator, Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration and Governor Larry Hogan's Highway Safety Representative
“Walktober reminds us of the many walkable trails and recreational opportunities there are throughout our beautiful state. We encourage residents and visitors alike to explore Maryland's second-to-none trail system, which can show what a true hiker's paradise our state is."
Mike Gill, Secretary, Maryland Department of Commerce__
“Walking is a simple, accessible form of exercise that can improve a person's overall health. We applaud Marylanders who already make this healthy habit part of their daily routine and encourage others to take the step to live healthier lives."
Dennis R. Schrader, Secretary, Maryland Department of Health