UNITED STATES─Fresno is a fairly walkable city getting a ranking of the 26th most walkable city of its size in the US and a Walk Score of 45. With the summer of 2020 just beginning, many people are looking to walk as a way to avoid big crowds on busses and public transit to help prevent getting or spreading COVID-19.

While walking may be a way to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, there are other risks that pedestrians face every day while walking around Fresno. The biggest risk is getting hit by a car. While the nation is benefitting from a decade’s long reduction in the number of auto accident fatalities, pedestrian fatalities have risen dramatically, and Fresno is no exception.

Self-Guided Tour

One way to walk that will help you get exercise, maintain social distancing, and see the city is to take a self-guided tour of downtown Fresno. GPSMYCITY is a website where you can choose several planned self-guided tours or you can create your own. You can choose how long, which landmarks and sights and the website will plan out a map of your route and list the sights to be seen.

Fresno Downtown Introduction Walk

On such tour has the walker start on Mariposa at St. Johns Cathedral (first landmark) and then take in 8 other sights that include Sante Fe Passenger Depot, Fresno City Hall, Liberty Theater and the Old Fresno Water Tower (which everyone says is a must-see).

This has you walking 2.5 miles in around 2 hours which includes time to stop and look at the sights. There are plenty of places to stop and get a snack or drink or find a restroom.

Commuting/Shopping/Getting Around

Walking to get to work or go shopping is a great way to get exercise too. In Fresno, there are walking trails and paths were people can avoid roads and get to points of interest. For example, the Fresno CloviceTrail can take you from 3rd Street near N. Clovis Ave in Clovis along an old rail line and into north Fresno.

There are other trails, walking paths and shared-use paths that pedestrians can use to get around Fresno while minimizing exposure to motor vehicles.

How to Walk Safely

  • Know where you are going: Whether on a walking tour or a trip to the store, know your route and how long it is and even a couple of alternatives if the road is impassable for some reason.
  • Know where the danger is: For example, the above-mentioned walking tour has the pedestrian walking along Fresno Avenue for a few blocks, and Fresno Avenue is tied for the 5th most deadly street in Fresno. Knowing this can help you stay vigilant or even find an alternative route.
  • Walk on sidewalks: When possible, walk on sidewalks and avoid walking on streets and bike lanes. Only a small fraction of pedestrian deaths happen on sidewalks.
  • Cross at Intersections and crosswalks: It’s tempting to cross a street halfway to avoid walking all the way down to the intersection. However, the crosswalk is one of the safest places for pedestrians if street signals are obeyed.
  • Never assume a driver sees you: Even when looking right at you, a pedestrian just doesn’t register with some drivers. This is called tunneling, and it accounts for a large percentage of pedestrian fatalities.
  • Be visible at all times: During the day, make sure you are seen before crossing a street, and at night, don’t wear dark clothes and bring a flashlight or have reflective clothing.
  • Don’t walk impaired: We don’t drink and drive because it endangers others on the road. We shouldn’t walk impaired because it endangers the pedestrian.

For additional tips, see this study about Fresno pedestrian safety which shows the most dangerous intersections put together by Maison Law and OptimizeMyFirm.

Walk to Enjoy the Summer

Walking to get somewhere is less stressful and better for you so long as you stay safe while doing it. It’s a good way to control your environment and avoid crowded buses and even the closed-in spaces of ride-share cars to prevent the spread of viruses and other airborne diseases.

But walking has its own risks, and the best way to stay safe is to follow the safety tips and to use common sense.