"If at any given time you look and see that pedestrians along our streets are not diverse, it may be a signal to us that we are not making our community as accessible as we should," write Michael F. Flaherty (Boston city councilor) and Wendy Landman (executive director of Walk Boston) in a Globe op-ed piece yesterday. And, I'd add, if you look around and see there aren't any pedestrians at all, we've made a poor physical environment for walkers.
With the weather finally nice and the days long, people are naturally out walking in areas where it's conducive to do so. In my neighborhood, people are out on foot before, during and after business hours. Around my office, you see lots of people out at lunchtime on certain streets, and few if any out on others -- a clear sign that some areas were successfully designed to encourage foot traffic, while others are pedestrian-hostile.
The presence of sidewalks, as I've said before, doesn't make for walkability. The unpleasant streetscape along many portions of roads like Speen Street, Rte. 30 and Rte. 9 limit walking, although there are many destinations to walk to if the environment were better. Here are some images from Walkable Communities Inc. at walkable.org where you can see comparisons of good and bad walking environments.