A friend of mine is moving to the Fairmont neighborhood of Philadelphia in a few weeks and I mentioned to her that my brother lives across town in Queens Village. Without missing a beat she replied, 'Oh that's like a 40 minute walk from my place.' Not thats a 5-minute drive or a 10-minute train ride, she led with a 40-minute walk. As a reference, this is a girl that drives and has never lived in Philly. Similarly, when I was last in New York, after dinner in the Lower East Side we decided to head to Williamsburg for a nightcap. Rather than hop on the multitude of transit options (bike, bus, cab, etc), we opted for the 25 minute walk across the Williamsburg bridge along with throngs of others without a second-thought.
And it seems like this is the case in many places I been to recently. Lisbon, San Francisco, DC. Some have hills, some are flat. Some have a grid, some don't. But what seems to be the common denominator is that everyone, tourist and residents alike, walk.
Yet in Pittsburgh, a city that recently ranked in the top ten most walkable cities in the country, you are hard pressed to get someone to walk 10-minutes let alone walk from Lawrenceville to Downtown (a similar distance to the aforementioned Philly reference).
So how can we get more people walking? Is it signage on major street corners that advertise walking distances to adjacent neighborhoods? Is it maps with ringed walking radius'? I don't know what the answer is but I do know that fresh air and a brisk stroll is a great way to get from A to B.