Running out to pick up a tomato pie for dinner, we managed to catch the tail end of a story on NJN News (about 24 minutes in) this evening announcing that Trenton was named the country’s 8th most walkable city by Prevention Magazine.
In conjunction with the American Podiatric Medical Association, Prevention assembled a group of experts who evaluated the best cities for hoofing it around.
In the write up, Trenton was cited for the high percentage of people who walk to work and or walk for exercise. Trenton’s infrastructure was deemed “highly walkable” because it provided wide sidewalks without having to cross a lot of wide and busy streets.
Another positive was the cluster of walkable commercial and cultural attractions downtown.
Now it’s tempting to denigrate the study by pointing out the comparable absence of such attractions compared with the Trenton of 40 or 50 years ago. We’ll forego the cheap and easy shot to point out the positive…Trenton is an exceptionally walkable city.
The fact that Trenton still exhibits the character of its 19th century boom years is a real plus. The city’s size is quite manageable, even for pedestrians. It’s only about a mile from the county courthouse at Broad and Market Streets to Waterfront Park. It’s a similar stroll from the State House up through Stacy Park to the Island neighborhood.
The cluster of government and commercial buildings downtown is easily accessible.
And the architecture is by and large intact due to the lack of wholesale redevelopment schemes (not that there hasn’t been some proposed).
In short, Trenton is a city on a very human scale and it would behoove professional planners and developers to keep that in mind as they plot the future of the capital city.
As thinking people seek more ways to lives independent of their automobiles, cities like Trenton will become more and more attractive. We’d be well advised to keep to the plans for downtown as laid out in the Capital City Redevelopment Corporation’s Master Plan of twenty years ago. The state and the city should come to terms with the need to open up Rte. 29 so we can regain pedestrian access to the riverfront. And we need to stop courting the out-of-scale type of developments represented by the Full Spectrum project.
To be sure, we need more people living, working, shopping and playing downtown. But we can’t afford to lose the comfortable scale of the buildings and streets in the process.