The City of Columbia has been designated as a Walk Friendly Community at the Bronze level by the Walk Friendly Communities (WFC) Program. WFC is a national recognition program developed to encourage cities and towns across the United States to develop and support walking environments with an emphasis on safety, mobility, access and comfort. Sponsored by FedEx and managed by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center (HSRC), the program distinguishes communities leading the way in walkability and seeks to share their stories to inspire other communities to move toward their own innovative solutions. In the 11 years since the program began, it has recognized 78 cities across 32 States with Walk Friendly designations. Receiving a designation as a "Walk Friendly Community" is a designation with real meaning; it is difficult to earn and important to renew.
Feedback received as a part of the Walk Friendly Communities application process helps to provides a roadmap to making walking better for communities of all shapes and sizes. While the award process considers very visible elements such as pedestrian infrastructure, other essential elements include efforts around education, encouragement through events, evaluation mechanisms, and enforcement, all through the lens of equity. The rigorous application process is an educational tool in itself.
The five levels of the BFC award – diamond, platinum, gold, silver and bronze, plus an honorable mention category – provide a clear incentive for communities to continuously improve. Awarded communities must renew their status every four years to ensure that they not only maintain existing efforts, but also keep up with changing technology, national safety standards, and community-driven best practices.
The City of Columbia has been designated as a bronze-level community since 2015; the designation is a five-year designation. Columbia remains the only Walk Friendly Community designated in South Carolina; information regarding the program and other designated communities can be found at http://walkfriendly.org/ .
For more information, visit http://walkfriendly.org/ or contact the Planning and Development Services Department at 803-545-3222. For more information on multimodal planning in the City of Columbia, visit http://bit.ly/WalkBikeColumbia . For more information about the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC), visit https://www.columbiasc.net/planning-preservation/bpac .