This is a reflection and visualization of the data and feedback collected through the Walkway's installation period.

  • 4,950 VISITORS
  • 100 STORIES


The 354 survey responses received are visualized in the demographic charts below:


From the responses received, below are the highest percentages for how people categorized specific public interactions.


When asked if people had or hadn't initiated a negative or positive public interaction, 84 out of the 354 respondents chose to share why. Based on the information shared, the majority felt that by "saying hello", "making small talk" or "asking someone to smile", they were being nice or polite. The people who responded to "calling someone a pet name" did it for fun, and people who "whistled", "honked" or "followed someone" hoped to get someone's attention. Lastly, people who "asked for someone's number" did so in hopes of establishing a connection.



It's always disconcerting when I dress a way I identify with, and people criticize and stigmatize me. While in high-school, I used to dress pretty differently from the crowd. Today, I "fit in" to avoid stares and name calling.

People need to grow a thick. Someone saying something is in no way harmful. Someone flipping you off is not harmful. If no one is following you, threatening you with a weapon or physically, or touching you, get over it.

I think if public spaces are kept clean and provide a sense of value to those who use them, it detracts people who do/say vulgar things in public.

When I was maybe 20, I was walking to school and a 50ish year old man came closer to me and said that he wished he could "open me". I felt so abused, that I ran away crying. It was very upsetting.

I remember once I was walking with a friend in New York City around lunchtime. We passed by two men who were working on a window at a business nearby. One of them started to make comments like "Oh look at these sexy ladies right here," and as we came by I said, "Wow I really love it when gross guys make comments at me on the street." The man tried to come after us, making gestures like he wanted to swing at us, while his friend held him back. Scary.

I was once riding the metro when a man began to show and stroke his private parts. It was really early in the morning, I was not even fully awake and had no idea what to do. I ended up looking away and avoiding eye contact. When the train stopped I switched to a different seat closer to a group of women. I wish I would have reacted by taking out my phone and threatening to send a video to the police.

I have been harassed about my appearance by other people. Questioned my sexuality or gender based upon my appearance.

I work in a mall kiosk and I once had a man refer to me as his "favorite animal at a zoo exhibit" as the kiosk is almost cage-like.

I've been whistled at before and found it quite threatening not because of the obvious nature of it but mostly because of the age difference between the construction worker and myself.

I was walking at the mall with my wife, when a group of guys yelled a homophobic insult out their window and drove off. It doesn't bother me because I'm comfortable with myself and who I am. It's just sad to see hate.

Years ago, as I was coming home one evening on the metro, I saw a young woman being approached by a man, whom she did not know. He was engaging in some small talk, but she wasn't interested. I moved closer to her and then I started talking with her in an effort to get her away from the unwanted advances of this strange guy. I tried to explain to her what I was doing, but she didn't quite get it. The guy continued to talk to her. My train arrived and so I boarded. I don't know if what I was doing helped or confused her.

There is a difference between common courtesy and making lewd comments. This city struggles in general. As we see less and less people being genuinely nice and courteous — the rude comments stand out.

As an Asian Indian, especially in the current climate, public spaces have increasingly becoming a place where I contend racially charged remarks and threats.

I often observe people talking on the phone or just talking way too loud in public spaces like the train, an airplane, etc. They are either completely unaware or do it because they feel powerful. Either way it's very disrespectful and beyond annoying.

My most recent story happened while I was walking down a quiet neighborhood street, in broad daylight, and an older man on a bicycle rode by and called me "baby doll." I am not your baby. I am not your doll. I am nothing to you and therefore you should leave me alone.

I think it makes life more fun to be talking and interacting with people. I do not like obscene people, and once had a woman just go ahead of me in line for movie tix when we were running late for our show. I said, "Excuse me but I was next, and we're in a rush." She cursed at me, which seemed so unreasonable. And I was with my kids, who were young at the time. I became a "lioness" and said "Watch your mouth!". Then the employee asked her to step aside so he could take care of me since I was first. It was upsetting that someone could be so rude, and especially in front of young children, and especially when everyone is going out to the movies to relax and have fun.

I was at a crosswalk on the corner of 14th and Rhode Island on a Friday night waiting for the light to change. An attractive woman in her late 20's/early 30's stood next to me with a sad, troubled look on her face so I told her, honestly and without thinking, "You're gorgeous." She was a bit startled and started to choke up then said, "Thanks. Some guy just told me I looked way past my prime." The light turned green and I responded matter-of-factly, "Well he's an idiot," as I passed and parted ways.

I always smile and try to make eye contact with people I pass on the street. If they respond back by smiling I usually add a "hello!" or "good morning!". I can tell from their positive reaction that they feel good about the interaction.

I was out with some friends at a bar, watching them play a game of pool with my back to the rest of the room. A guy comes up behind me and slides his hands up between my legs and grabs me. I turned around and shoved him off of me. He got angry and so he swung at my face to punch me. Luckily the guys in my group of friends stepped in, knocked the guy around a bit, and then helped throw him out.

When I walk or ride my bike alone through specific parts of the city or next to construction sites, I get cat calls, 'hey baby's", and other comments that I feel demeans me as a woman...and just because I am walking or riding ALONE at the moment.

There's a big difference between being polite and friendly and being harassing and intimidating for your pleasure. But it can be subtle at first and that's the scariest part — you never know so you always have to be defensive. I feel like if I get harmed or sexually assaulted, I'll be blamed.

When I was younger, I would get cat calls for my appearance etc.

I think people on the metro in DC need to be friendlier to one another. Especially in the morning and evening commutes since there are so many people traveling on the metro lines at those times. I've encountered many people who are very unfriendly at those times.

I'm a runner, so I get harassed on a daily basis when I run. I'm honestly surprised if I go on a run and someone doesn't honk, whistle, or comment about my body. I've been groped while running three times. My boyfriend is shocked that these things happen so often, and I don't think men understand how threatening it is to be out on a run and being followed. My biggest fear is that I'll be running somewhere without heavy foot traffic, too tired to pick up my running pace, and be overpowered by someone.

Walking around outside feels like a battle sometimes. We look down on other countries/cultures for restricting women's movements, but I feel the same sort of force in America. I wouldn't leave the house late at night without someone walking with me (likely a man) and face a lot of harassment when I'm on my own. I get nervous when men are walking too closely behind me or when a big group of guys is coming down the sidewalk. Putting headphones in helps. I've noticed that when I wear earbuds I don't receive as much harassment because men think you can't hear them — it's all about power and control. If a guy was genuinely trying to compliment me, his efforts would be ruined by things other guys have done that have trained me to think the worst of people. In addition, being white, I don't deal with as much harassment as some of my friends of color. However, I also struggle with how to respond when sexual harassment comes from men that aren't white. It's not that I think white men don't harass people, but in the city I live in, men of color will often follow up my ignoring them by yelling things like "oh, what? you're too good for me?" and it's obnoxious. I don't know what to say and it belittles the fact that sexual harassment happens to all sorts of women. Anyways, public spaces are for everyone, and I think that a lot of men assume public space is just for them. That's a problem that unites women in a global way, even if that mindset plays out differently depending on where you are.

Once when I was walking down U ST at 8pm to meet a friend for dinner, a man followed me for a block telling me he was going to "shove his thing so far down my throat I wouldn't be able to scream for help". I stopped several people on the street asking them to help me and no one did. I carry mace and a knife now.

I was groped outside my local bodega.

I may be strange, but I am pleased when someone tells me I look good. I like compliments.

I think it's important to differentiate what is really being said by comments made on appearance. If a stranger tells me I'm "pretty" or "have a great body", those are things I don't have much control over since it's mostly genetics, so I don't take it as a compliment. I take it that they are evaluating my worth based on my appearance. If a stranger tells me that they "love my scarf" or "think my dress is pretty", I take that as a compliment of my taste and fashion sense.

Guy driving next to me: "hi?" Me, walking on the sidewalk: "are you needing directions?" Guy: "I, ummm.. You look like my friend." Me: "I'm not your friend." Guy: "but you look like my friend" Me: continuing to walk, ignoring him. Guy: continuing to follow me in his car. " Where can I..?" Me: continuing to walk. "I'm in a hurry. Are you lost?" Guy: "well... No... But... I need to ask you something." Me: continues to walk and ignore. Guy: continues to follow me. "Can I.. I want to ask you... Could you give me your phone number?" Me: "no." Guy: "but you look like my friend. Can I just get your number?" Continues to follow me. Me: "you need to leave." Guy: after continuing to follow me, finally decides to go when he's holding up traffic.

I have been groped by a man passing me on the sidewalk on a bicycle, while I was running (and in completely innocuous running attire).

I wish I didn't get called homophobic slurs on the streets in DC.

I once had a man on the street say hi to me. I smiled, but kept walking. He insulted me for not responding the way he wanted me to. As a woman, unwanted attention is always that: unwanted. Please do not honk, yell, or whistle at me from the street.

I often wear a fedora hat. While walking to work one morning I noticed a smartly dressed couple walking towards me — the gentleman was wearing a similar hat. He tipped his hat to me, complimented my hat and wished me a good day. It was a simple, passing interaction but I have never forgotten it.

I love watching/participating in interactions at the farmers market....people really open up around food....I find myself giving cooking ideas to people asking, what do I do with this? I especially do this to help out the farmers who have become friends.

While walking on the sidewalk, a gentleman on a bike was riding toward me. As he passed me, he threw his arm out in front of me in a very quick motion, as if to disturb me or call attention to himself. The experience startled me and left me with a negative feeling for hours thereafter. It was unpleasant.

I appreciate a nice hello from a stranger on the street. Unfortunately, much more than a quick hello can be construed as something negative.

I remember how shocked and upset I was when I reached puberty and first experienced these things.

I use "ma'am" and "sir" to show respect.

Women are owned by the public in public spaces. I'm middle aged and men I've never met before still tell me to smile and expect me to do so. Will this end when I get a walker when I'm 80? The older I get, the more frightening these encounters become because I understand how quickly they can become dangerous. We all have to walk that thin line between rejecting unwanted attention and making the person being rejected feel ok about it so they won't attack. I really didn't understand how bad it was until I got married and started going ordinary places (grocery store, target, etc.) with my husband and I saw how differently I was treated when I was with him.

I like saying random things loudly in public spaces sometimes as long as it's funny and not offensive. I find it has a positive reaction if it's a nice day.

An offer to help can be quite kind from one person and actually very threatening coming from another.

Before the time of UBER, I was followed home for blocks after leaving a bar. Finally I found a taxi and the guy started running after me and tried to get in. Luckily the taxi driver was perceptive. I often think about what might have happened had he got in the car.

I was at my usual bus stop waiting to go to home from the gym. I had my earphones in and was minding my own business. A man came up to me and said, 'Did you know it's hug a thug day? Can I get a hug?' I replied, 'I'm not a thug,' and walked away. The man proceeded to follow me around the bus stop as I was clearly feeling threatened by him and continuously asked him to stop and leave me alone. Finally, another man told him stop following me and to leave me alone. They began to argue, but the initial man finally walked away from the bus stop. It was disheartening that my protests as a woman were not validated until another man intervened.

Just because I'm not smiling, or I don't "look happy" doesn't mean you have to come up and tell me to do so. Respect people's space, even if your act is genuine.

I love walking and prefer it to any other mode of transportation. The most pleasant experiences are when people smile to acknowledge you or say "Good morning"; the most annoying ones are when they cat-call or tell you to smile. I try to be friendly and open when I walk, especially around my neighborhood, but many times I put on a "mean" face or avoid eye contact because I don't want to be called at or followed. During the day, I largely feel safe, but not so much at night. I wish, as a woman, that I didn't have to be worried about getting harassed, but unfortunately it happens and it will definitely prevent me from walking in certain areas and at certain times.

Love DC since it is very pedestrian friendly. But there are certainly folks every once in a while that will surprise you or you have to watch out for or even feel sorry for. I live in Dupont Circle and there is this guy who sits on the corner of 17th and P Street and asks for help in the most friendly way possible. Over time people have started interacting with him and he has now made many friends in the neighborhood who help him out. And he in turn receives everyone with a smile no matter if they help him or not. He will engage folks in a conversation and even provide treats to their dogs. Both me and my wife have now known him for a few years and one day when my wife was followed by a crazy homeless guy who was screaming at her. He stepped in to protect her and managed to dissuade the homeless guy from further pursuit of my wife. And all this happened in broad daylight, on a public sidewalk and no one but him came to her protection. One of the most humbling experiences.

People used to say I was going to hell for being gay at school.

People compliment me. Men stare.

I usually have a straight face in public and when people ask me to smile and to stop looking angry I get really offended because most of the time I'm not angry and it's just my face.

My sister and I were feeling goofy on one of her visits to DC. We were at the entrance to a popular alley on U Street having a cigarette. We took turns randomly complimenting passers by, like "nice boots", and then we followed it in sync with an, "Alley Shout Out!". We thought we were being cute and that it would be a good SNL skit. Anyway, after we followed the compliment with an, "Alley Shout Out" people laughed every single time. It was a good and funny experience and we talk about it often.

I was falling asleep on the metro bus, and a woman sat next to me and was really nice and we had small talk for a minute. She was really sweet and put me in a good mood the rest of the day.

Glad the city is doing something about this. It's a difficult issue to address, as solving it really depends on education and outreach to men. Street harassment in DC is significant, more than in other cities, and I experience it multiple days a week.

I have been attacked physically, verbally and repeatedly by homeless men and women in DC.

I was walking down the street, right around 14th and U St actually, when a man walking the other way grabbed my chest. I was so in shock I didn't have time to react but felt completely violated.

The other day a man walked by me and made kissing noises and grunts and so I turned around and told him to F-off and a policeman was also right behind me and he just looked at me and shrugged as if there was nothing he could do. This made me feel disgusted and hurt that law enforcement won't intervene until a situation gets physical.

Men often assume I will move out of their way when we cross paths on the street. I will not, and I bump right into them. Men will make verbal sexual comments towards me and when I don't respond I'm often insulted. Men in groups (construction workers) leer and I feel like they are undressing me with their eyes. I avoid them as often as possible. When men make sexual comments or advances and I ignore them and there's usually verbal consequences that make me feel physically unsafe. When strange men offer to help me with something there is often an expectation that I'll repay them with my attention or affection.

I give positive compliments when I see something beautiful.

When I was a freshman in high school in Manhattan, I would get catcalled and inappropriate attention from adult men (up to appearing 60+) while wearing my school uniform. I was flattered by this for a time, unless the attention was threatening or too active, and it became a factor in my self-worth. I would measure how confident I felt in my physical appearance by if/how many times I garnered unsolicited attention on the street. As I grew I began to understand the escalation of this type of behavior and the role it plays is in perpetuating rape culture. I wish I'd received messaging from my parents or school regarding the dangerous context of this type of behavior and misunderstanding it as flattering.

Even today, my neighbor was recounting a time when his high school English teacher, a British woman, had chosen not to like him on the basis of him being American. This was when the US was in war in Vietnam, and her boyfriend had been there to photograph war scenes and seen dreadful acts on the part of Americans. But still, it is wrong to extrapolate what a government has supported to the intentions of any single individual. My neighbor at age 15 or so, was not responsible for the deaths of those in Vietnam. Obviously the acts of war are in no way condoned, but this boy could have been spared a good deal of animosity had his teachers had a little perspective. I think this is true of most problems people face, and at any scale: they can be solved with just a dash of perspective. Personally, as an Iranian-American, I definitely get my fair share inquisitive questions and prolonged side glances, but I, at least, have a just a bit of perspective so I let it go. And so should my passersby.

I wear chains, flashy shoes and belts to establish my value as a black man that doesn't need to steal NOT because I like to be flashy. Otherwise, I would wear jeans and a hoody like Trayvon because it's comfortable... but in public I feel more like a threat.

I was on the end of a crowded bench waiting for a train. There were empty seats farther down, but this guy squeezes next to me anyway. When I start scooting over to make room he says "no worries". I dropped my headphones and reached down to pick them up, when I sat down again his hand was under me but he didnt move it right away. I looked at him and he gave me this strange dazed look so I walked away as fast as possible.

On the metro, on my way to work, a guy sat next to me on a crowded train. The guy had his backpack on his lap, so his hands were under his backpack. He had his hands close my knees and he proceeded to rub his fingers up on my thigh. I told him to stop and I got up and made a huge scene on the metro to get attention from other passengers that this guy was bothering me.

I was walking around on my own wearing a sweatshirt with a feminist mantra I had painted on it for the women's march. A man saw my sweatshirt and asked enthusiastically if he could post a photo of me in it on Instagram. I said "sure." I was so honored and flattered that he thought my sweatshirt was so worth spreading.

One time I was walking down the street minding my own business and a man who was walking past me spat on me and called me a homophobic slur. I was shocked and disturbed, but did not interact with him as I did not want to make the situation worse.

There are too many to tell. I can't count the number of times that I've attracted unwanted attention in public spaces, either for being a woman, holding hands with a woman, or both.

I remember walking down Georgia Avenue past the McDonald's across from Howard University. This man told me I was pretty and made another comment. I ignored him, but he proceeded to follow me. I frantically walked faster and tried to get help from passerbys, but no one reacted to the situation.

What I think a lot of men consider as flattering, most women consider threatening. My first summer in D.C. was a crash course in walking around with an indifferent expression on my face in response to any sort of cat-calling that I received. Yet, every time someone honked at me, screamed at me or came to close for comfort — it was a constant reminder that I wasn't always safe and of course when I did speak up for myself, retaliation was swift with some sort of expletive.

One time standing outside my apartment building, a man came up to me and said some gross things to me. Another time outside a different building a man was looking at me, walking towards me, laughing, and had his pants completely down with full frontal exposure. The number of honks, creepy smiles, comments, are too many to list or remember.

I get harassed most often by homeless people and the fact that they're homeless makes me feel like I can't retaliate in any way, allowing them to get away with so many unacceptable behaviors. I know many other people probably feel the same way. Homelessness should not justify inappropriate public behavior towards other human beings minding their own business.

Sometimes men will start talking to me by asking me where I'm from, and then guessing: Jamaica, Mexico, Puerto Rican (all wrong). I wonder why they think their lack of geography will come off as attractive! I don't like those moments because they make me feel like I don't belong in DC, like I'm an outsider.

Well I have anxiety, but I am also racially paranoid. I sometimes feel because I am an African American, people tend to watch and judge. If someone crosses the street and walks in the same direction in front of me, I'll try to pass them or cross the street. Being black and walking behind any race I feel as though they will judge and think I'm up to no good. So I avoid it if possible. I just hope one day, everyone will have a better understanding of each other. One day I hope people will understand how I feel.

I accidentally bumped into a woman and she started cursing at me and calling me demeaning and racial names. On another occasion, I had a man follow me on numerous occasions on the Metro, constantly talking and asking me to go out. I told him no repeatedly and then finally, I switched up my schedule to avoid him. Also, I called Metro police but nothing was done.

In a public town meeting, a male individual began touching my arm, back, or shoulder inappropriately and calling me sweetheart. We didn't know each other at all.

I once had a random stranger try to grab my chest on a public street corner in broad daylight. Fortunately, my subconscious brain processed what he was trying to do and swatted his hand away before he could.

I was constantly faced with all of the actions on the survey list growing up in the Bronx, NY. Growing up being cat called, or judged so quickly actually took a toll on my self esteem. I felt very uncomfortable being myself and dressing how I wanted to dress in fear of being made fun of or called names or even approached in disrespectful ways. As I grew older I feared going out with friends and would purposely not look my best to not attract any attention to myself. Today I am proudly over that all but it would be nice if people thought about the consequences of their actions before acting on them.

Walking down the street during the day, I passed a man simply standing on the sidewalk and he growled at me.

I have once seen a group of girls gossiping about me saying I am handsome.

One afternoon, about a year ago, my daughter and I were cycling in Alexandria, VA (Old Town). We were riding in a two lane street, in the designated bike lane. A car came right up behind us and stayed there. The irate driver was honking his horn and yelling at us to get out of HIS way. Never mind that the lane next to us was completely clear for him to pass. Finally, after a minute or so, he went around us and sped off down the street. My daughter has hardly ridden her bike since.

People don't look at each other walking down the street or on the metro, etc any more. Kind of sad. People seem to think that looking is a terrible thing. No more innocent eye connect or a little flirt.

I cannot walk alone in the streets without receiving some kind of street harassment.

I live in the NE neighborhood of Washington D.C., right around H Street. I find that a majority of people who live in this neighborhood are friendlier and more neighborly than in other parts of the city. People here say hello to one another, smile and before where I would have found this to be threatening (especially coming from men) the normalcy of it and the nonchalantness with which it is delivered completely takes that subliminal threat out of these simple exchanges. Neighbors talk to each other and the neighborhood feels both safer and more welcoming because of this. A lot of times when I am walking through Capitol Hill or near Eastern Market, and smile at people or say hello, I get glared out and just think this is such a sad way to interact with fellow human beings. A lot of times, I actually enjoy being stopped or even approach people to converse, I have found that when I do this, people respond really well because we have gotten so comfortable with not ignoring one another, that when you actually have a genuine human interaction, that isn't threatening or annoying, it can legitimately make your day.

One time when I was walking to a club with some female friends, a couple crossed our path. The man was drunk and said to me "that dress should be illegal". His girlfriend laughed but I could tell she was embarassed. It made me feel really embarassed too because I never want to make another woman feel inferior. RECENTLY, I was walking down 16th St by myself and 2 men rolled their windows down and whistled at me while they drove past. This was in the middle of the day and families were walking beside me. They all turned around to stare at me and I felt dirty. ANOTHER TIME, I saw a man commenting on every woman walking past him. When I walked past he mumbled "girl with no behind..." Also, a lot of times male drivers lean into the passengars seat to get a better look of me standing at a corner when they turn that corner. It makes me feel dirty.

Why do people think they can voice their racism now? Being American means respect for all and our city has changed so much — public spaces are becoming hate spaces.

I just read today how much we don't interact with each other. I'm a "people person" and I love interaction, but there's so much time, for example, in coffee shops or on the Metro or whatever it may be that we just stand there with stone faces or listening to our music or reading a book. Don't get me wrong, if that's something you really want/need to do for whatever reason please keep doing it, but there are so many people in this world that we're missing! We could be spreading seasonal cheer or lamenting about the game last night or giving directions or finding something in common! So I try to just talk to folks — waiting for stoplights, in the elevator, saying "thank you" to service people, standing in line, walking from the car into the office, etc. People are part of what make the world such a special place to be — I think we should take more advantage of that.

As a woman in public spaces, I feel unsafe all the time. I resent that I've gotten used to it. I resent my partner for not having to go through it.

I've been catcalled by guys from every ethnicity and from teenagers to 80+ year old men. 50% of the time when you ignore the catcall, you're then called an expletive or told you have no manners. 45% of the time, it's harmless but annoying. 5% of the time, it escalates to the guy assuming he can grab whatever he wants. 99% of the time, it makes me feel unsafe.

I got my butt pinched by two big guys in Adams Morgan, right after the bars were closing down and people were milling about walking to get their midnight meals... pizza, empanadas. etc. I was so startled and as I turned around to look, they had crossed the street and snickered. Needless to say, I have not been back to this neighborhood for 9 years or so. Might be a great place, but I don't like sleaze and will do everything I can do avoid it.


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