Mission & History

Mission & History

WalkBoston makes walking safer and easier in Massachusetts to encourage better health, a cleaner environment and more vibrant communities.

Nobody was protecting walkers.

Building wider streets, parking lots and expressways had consumed America’s civic leaders since the 1950s. But after forty years, the consequences—both good and bad—were becoming apparent, and there was a growing backlash against an autos-only outlook. Several Boston-area citizens persuaded Massachusetts Governor Frank Sargent to stop building highways through the city. Instead, they created the people-friendly Southwest Corridor Park on land that had been cleared for a road.

Some of those citizens believed pedestrians, as well as highway enthusiasts, should have advocates. So in 1990 they founded WalkBoston, the first organization in America dedicated to making communities more walkable and safer for pedestrians. Since then WalkBoston has served as the model for other pedestrian advocacy organizations across the nation, and in 1996, we co-founded the umbrella group America Walks.

We work statewide with advocacy, neighborhood and community groups, educational institutions and city and state government.

WalkBoston has achieved much in our over 25 years of service. We have created walks, maps and publications, passed legislation, helped write pedestrian design manuals, led the nation’s first Safe Routes to School program, promoted healthy living campaigns and publicized the economic value of good walking environments for business success. Our timeline tracks these important achievements and successes over the years.

Statewide Action Plan

Building on nearly 30 years of advocacy in more than 100 cities and towns across the Commonwealth, WalkBoston has adopted a three-year plan offering a framework on how to Make Massachusetts More Walkable. This action plan defines our focus areas and articulates the principles that guide our work.

Golden Shoe Awards

WalkBoston presents the Golden Shoe Awards at our annual meeting each March to celebrate and reward those who have bettered the walking environment and who exemplify the ideals that guide WalkBoston. Golden Shoes are awarded to individuals, agencies, municipalities and companies.

Annual reports

WalkBoston publishes an annual report that highlights our key achievements and committee activities, celebrates our golden shoe winners, and thanks our foundation, corporate and individual supporters. The reports are issued at our annual celebration in March.