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Category: Statewide Efforts

Age-Friendly Walking in your community: WalkBoston guidance for taking action

Age-Friendly Walking in your community: WalkBoston guidance for taking action

Age-Friendly Walking is a framework for planning and building cities and towns that are walkable for people of all ages. Walkability is key to ensuring that older adults can age in community, access goods and services, and maintain physical, mental, and social health.

To guide Age-Friendly Walking efforts for communities across Massachusetts, WalkBoston has developed a list of 8 policy actions and 8 infrastructure improvements that will help make communities more walkable. We hope these guidance documents can assist residents and municipal staff to take actions that will create accessible sidewalks and streets that are safe and welcoming for people of all ages.

If you would like to learn more about how WalkBoston can support Age-Friendly Walking in your community please email us at agefriendly@walkboston.org

These guidance documents can be downloaded here:
8 Age-Friendly Policy Actions
8 Age-Friendly Infrastructure Improvements

‘Safe driving during COVID-19’ PSA graphics

‘Safe driving during COVID-19’ PSA graphics

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, lower traffic volumes have led to dangerous driving speeds in communities across the Commonwealth. High driving speeds contributed to a doubled roadway fatality rate in the month of April in Massachusetts. Driver speeding affects all road users by making walking and rolling conditions unsafe and uncomfortable.

With the safer-at-home advisory still in place, increased numbers of people are walking, rolling, and running in their communities. To make roadways safe for all users, drivers must take responsibility to not exceed the posted speed limit and to yield to walkers and rollers who are using street space to maintain physical distance in areas with narrow sidewalks.

To support communities who are seeing dangerously high traffic speeds and unsafe driving behavior, WalkBoston partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Mass in Motion (MiM) and MORE Advertising to develop a social media campaign that MiM coordinators can use to raise awareness about safer pandemic driving behavior.

To broaden the reach of this important message, we invite all communities and individuals to use these graphics on your social media or other town communication platforms.

These graphics are set up for Facebook. Consider adding the following language as a comment to your social media post:

  • Keep our roads safe for everyone!
  • Safe driving is still important. Keep our roads safe for all.

Please consider every street a shared street and stay safe!

4 PSA graphic options (click for full size, and then right click to “save image as”):

 

WalkMassachusetts Network Adjusts to ‘New Normal’ with a Virtual Gathering

WalkMassachusetts Network Adjusts to ‘New Normal’ with a Virtual Gathering

On June 26, a dozen WalkBoston staff and WalkMassachusetts Network members met virtually for the first time. Our conversation, held on Zoom, offered an important opportunity for advocates from across the state to check-in and provide mutual support in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

The meeting followed WalkBoston’s Walkability and Main Street Resilience virtual panel on June 24, in which Stacey Beuttell (WalkBoston), Che Anderson (City of Worcester) and Alia Hamada Forrest (Roslindale Village Main Street) discussed strategies for expanding street spaces for walkers, rollers, and local businesses with an emphasis on safety, accessibility, and economic recovery. The WalkMassachusetts members discussed major takeaways and inspiration gleaned from the panel, including the variety of creative solutions that they hope to implement in their own communities. 

We also discussed how communities across the Commonwealth are approaching shared and open streets projects, which alter streets for increased active transportation and outdoor dining, and we learned that implementation varies. Network members shared examples of what is working well in their towns and cities and noted the challenges, such as securing funding for these projects and ensuring that there is still enough accessible sidewalk space for all pedestrians. Members noted how the narrative around “open/shared streets” has changed from one focused on public health to one focused on economic development. That change in focus appears to have sparked new interest in these strategies from state and local government. Advocates expressed concerns around accessibility and prioritizing alternative recreation spaces for children as playgrounds remain closed. Members also shared strategies for identifying streets that make good candidates for closure, and how to approach local officials with project ideas. We wrapped up the call with a closer look at the many funding opportunities currently available to towns, municipalities, and community groups for open/shared streets projects.

It was fantastic to hear from WalkMassachusetts Network members about how their communities are coping and see members supporting each other by sharing ideas for safer walking. WalkBoston works with Network members from across the state, so we are excited to continue using video calls as a platform for meeting and connecting more often with the larger group. Many of the Network members are working remotely, though some are working on the front lines. We look forward to creating accessible ways for all members to come together and share experience and expertise. 

Walkability & Main Street Resilience Recording

Walkability & Main Street Resilience Recording

Thank you to our panelists, Alia and Che, and all of you who joined us for Walkability and Main Street Resilience! 

In case you missed it, the panel discussion was recorded and is available here. We hope you will watch and share it to learn ways you can help the main street businesses that make your community walkable.

If you want to learn more about Roslindale Village Main Street and some of the efforts happening in Roslindale that Alia shared, head to the RVMS website.

Remember to keep supporting your main street businesses, and advocating for enough open space for walking and shopping local:

  • Let your city/town officials know if you like how your neighborhood main streets are adapting to outdoor dining and providing more space for walking
  • If you see a conflict point between walking and dining, reach out to your city hall and advocate for more space
  • Support local businesses using the tips mentioned by the panelists, such as purchasing goods/services, or sharing and liking their social media content 
  • Highlight what is working well. Share with @WalkBoston on Twitter or email: info@walkboston.org

If you work for a town, municipality, or small business in Massachusetts and would like to implement the ideas discussed during this panel in your community, check out some of these resources to get started: 

Funding

City of Boston Reopen Fund (for small businesses)

MassDOT’s Shared Streets and Spaces Grant Program

Mass Development’s COVID-19 Response Round: Resurgent Places Funding

Solomon Foundation’s Streets for Recovery Grant Program

Additional Resources

MAPC Webinar on Navigating MassDOT’s New Grant Program 

City of Boston Guidance for Temporary Extensions on Public Property

MAPC: Webinar on local permitting pre and post-COVID-19 

NACTO: “Streateries” webinar on restaurants and physical distancing 

More about current funding opportunities: 

Road Race: the Alarming Increase in Speeding on Massachusetts Roadways

Road Race: the Alarming Increase in Speeding on Massachusetts Roadways

 

Join WalkBoston tomorrow, June 4th, for a virtual AAA Northeast Town Hall to discuss the increase in speeding during the COVID-19 pandemic, making the roads more dangerous for all users at a time when walking outside is especially important for health.

Take part in the conversation tomorrow, June 4th from 11am-noon ET.

Register for the webinar here.

Learn more about the event and the panelists:

Excessive speeds have grave implications for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. We’ll discuss this alarming trend and consider approaches for getting people to slow down and prioritize safety.

Moderators: Mary Maguire and Mark Schieldrop

Panelists:

Colonel Christopher Mason, MA State Police

Jonathan Gulliver, MassDOT Highway Administrator

Jeff Larason, MA Director of Highway Safety

Galen Mook, Executive Director, MA Bicycle Coalition

Stacey Beuttell, Executive Director, WalkBoston