First things first: where will your walk begin and end? The start and end points should be familiar places where people feel comfortable gathering, like a downtown park or square, with space (and permission) to hold a kickoff or finale event. Outside is preferable for public visibility, but having a bad weather backup indoors is also a good idea. And don’t forget about parking availability for both locations.
The distance between the start and end for a one-day walk (or each day of a multi-day walk) should be between 5 and 20 miles (or between 5 and 15 miles in winter, due to cold temperatures and fewer daylight hours). You can estimate that a group of people will walk no faster than three miles an hour, and some will walk slower, especially if there are unfavorable road conditions. Therefore 10 miles will be approximately four hours, and 20 miles would be approximately eight hours of walking, not including breaks or lunch. Be sure to get something to eat or drink, including a location to serve lunch. Avoid walking at night.
Once your beginning and end locations are decided upon, you will want to choose a route that maximizes both safety and visibility. Think wide shoulders or sidewalks and not too many street crossings or turns to miss and get lost. Once safety needs are satisfied, the more local establishments and traffic to notice you along your route, the better. Drive your planned route multiple times with a friend, making note of traffic patterns, construction areas, walk lanes, convenience store “pit-stops”, posted signs, etc.
Plan to walk against traffic on the left side of the road for maximum visibility. There may be some situations where walking with traffic on the right side is necessary (e.g. construction or a disappearing shoulder). In such situations, take extra precautions to protect the walkers with your volunteer support vehicles. And please try to minimize road crossings throughout!