This blog was written by Emilie Bahr, Walking College Manager and Communications Specialist for America Walks. Emilie is a writer, urban planner, healthy communities advocate, and mother residing in Louisiana.
In one of my earliest memories of seeing my late father angry, I am biking alongside him as he runs around the Louisiana State University lakes when a car comes speeding too fast around a curve.
I can remember my dad’s loud and forceful roar– SLOW DOWN – that at the time I found scarier than the car hurtling toward us.
Thinking back, I think it was that roar that got me interested in cities and how they function and who they are – and are not – built for. That made me a journalist and caused me to go to urban planning school.
It was that roar that also led me to take my current post at America Walks after my first child was born and I found myself standing, gape-mouthed, at the edge of crosswalks in my neighborhood at the drivers seeing me and my stroller and speeding right through (demonstrated below). I recognize that roar coming out of my own mouth now that I’m a mother, causing my kids to stare.
New Orleans, where I live, is a better place than many for getting around on foot. Because it’s a city largely built before cars, it has walkability (and bikeability) advantages over many other parts of the country. Our culture is another story. I believe it is up to the mothers – and fathers, grandparents, teachers, and others – who care about future generations of this city and other cities, towns and rural areas, to take action to bring about the sorts of positive changes that can create safer, more equitable, sustainable, and liveable communities. To that end, I encourage anyone who’s ever wanted to make a real difference where they live but may not have been sure how to go about doing so to apply for the Walking College, a remote-learning program that imparts fellows with the knowledge and skills they need to become leaders in creating stronger, safer communities.
Applications are open through the end of February for the six month-fellowship that teaches the basics of designing for more active, safe, and accessible transportation and helps to develop skills in navigating the public policy process, engaging decision-makers, fostering a local advocacy movement, and more. You can learn more HERE.