WalkBoston works with communities across Massachusetts to help them evaluate the walking environment, develop plans to improve walking conditions, engage local residents and municipal staff in walking activities and market walking as a convenient, healthy and inexpensive transportation choice. These are some of the ways WalkBoston helps make Massachusetts communities more walkable:
Designed to identify walking impediments or problems on existing or potential walking routes, these on-the-street audits can identify safety, accessibility or amenity issues that could be addressed through maintenance or small capital projects. In addition to on-the-street activities, these programs may also include:
• Meetings with municipal staff and board participants to develop a set of priorities for the assessments
• Presentation of our “Pedestrian Advocacy 101” slideshow
• Focus groups to elicit ideas and opinions from interested residents and municipal staff concerning walking conditions, opportunities and problems
• Training sessions that teach local staff and volunteers how to lead walking audits and record/report their findings
In addition to identifying action items to be taken to improve pedestrian safety, a walk audit is a community engagement tool that builds technical capacity. It brings together people with different perspectives to discuss the common goal of improving safety and quality of the walking environment. The experience of walking and observing travel patterns and people’s behavior can be a tipping point for communities to commit to making needed changes to the built environment.
Workshops are a key means of building constituents and deepening the commitment of community members to improving the walking environment. Workshops can teach municipal staff, elected officials, residents and local business organizations about issues such as:
• The elements of a good walking environment (our training program “Pedestrian Advocacy 101”)
and “Complete Streets” policies
• Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs
• Good Walking is Good Business
• The importance of, and methods to improve, snow clearance
• Walk Your Way to Health
WalkBoston can provide advice on the structure and content of a survey of community residents about local walking conditions, needs and opportunities.
• Review of survey questions, outreach methods and analysis of results.
• Walk-By VisioningTM , a public participation technique that engages pedestrians and transit users in the planning process
Safe Routes to School Program Assistance
With ten years of experience helping communities start, manage and deepen SRTS programs, WalkBoston can:
• Interview school personnel to explore Safe Routes to School (SRTS) interest
• Use interview findings as a means to elicit suggestions about next steps for SRTS programming
• Survey parents to help determine where Safe Routes to School programs can have the most impact
• Provide input on existing SRTS efforts to help tailor them to your schools
Walking Marketing Assistance
A walking “marketing plan” that makes use of existing walking resources in a community – whether town center walking routes, open space resources or Safe Routes to School programs that may be underway. This can entail:
• Assisting municipal staff and board members in development of multimedia/social media campaign to promote walking
• Reviewing marketing plans developed by staff and volunteers and providing feedback and suggestions
• Assisting municipal staff and volunteers in developing a plan to assess impact of programs
• Reviewing the assessment and provide feedback concerning next steps
Municipal Walking Strategy
Identifies the potential roles of different departments, local walking (or walking/biking) committees, local health advocacy organizations, schools and business or neighborhood groups. Strategies can include:
• Adoption of walking-friendly municipal policies (such as zoning requirements for sidewalks in new subdivisions or adoption of a sidewalk snow shoveling ordinance)
• Investment of municipal resources for walking-related efforts such as covering the costs of staff working on SRTS programs, addition of budget for pedestrian safety improvements, or development of grant proposals to support major trail projects
• Expansion of walking programs such as addition of active SRTS programs or initiation of walking clubs
Maps can be used to generate excitement about local walking opportunities, to help local
residents learn how easy it can be to walk in their communities, and as a marketing tool. Many examples of our walking maps are available on our website.
Data maps can illustrate, among other things, where pedestrian amenities are, where accidents occur, and where transit use is highest. If data is available from your municipality or regional planning commission, WalkBoston can help translate that data into helpful planning maps.
• Data maps that provide spatial information on traffic and safety
• Transit data such as bus and train boardings