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Tag: gateway cities

Hybrid virtual and in-person walk audits expand engagement opportunities in Haverhill

Hybrid virtual and in-person walk audits expand engagement opportunities in Haverhill

As pandemic restrictions ease and we resume in-person activities, WalkBoston is bringing back our traditional in-person group walk audits while keeping many of the new tools we’ve developed over the last year. 

Haverhill was the first of our Gateway Cities walk audits to benefit from this hybrid approach. Starting in late May, the hybrid walk audit gave participants the option to walk through Downtown Haverhill with us in a group or – using the self-guided walk audit process developed for pandemic walk audits –  to walk on their own at a time that worked better for their schedule. Hybrid walk audits like this one can help us make the process more accessible to a broader range of participants. 

Haverhill residents discuss lighting conditions under the Winter Street bridge during the in-person group walk of Downtown Haverhill.

The flexibility of the hybrid model also created an opportunity for the Haverhill walk audit to include an additional virtual element — a bilingual focus group organized with Haverhill’s Latino Coalition to ensure fuller representation of the community in this project. The focus group added 8 more residents’ voices to the walk audit and gave us new insight into how residents use and would like to change Section 2 of the walking route.

The Downtown Haverhill walk audit illustrates how the larger buffet of participation options we’ve developed over the past year have led to more inclusive and robust community engagement. Have an idea for other ways we can include people in the walk audit process? Let us know!

Downtown Haverhill Virtual Walk Audit

Downtown Haverhill Virtual Walk Audit

On May 27 and June 17, 2021, WalkBoston and MassINC conducted a virtual walk assessment with community members in the downtown Haverhill area as part of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Mass in Motion grant program, with support from the Solomon Foundation. The two main goals of the Gateway Cities walk audit project are to effect change at the local level to work towards safer, more enjoyable streets and to inform state policy and legislation to prioritize budgetary investment in Gateway Cities across the Commonwealth.

Read the full report here.

Strengthening Connections to Community and Transit in Gateway Cities

Strengthening Connections to Community and Transit in Gateway Cities

Since September 2020, WalkBoston has conducted a series of walk audits in Gateway Cities across the Commonwealth as part of our “Gateway Cities: Social Infrastructure and Walkability” project in partnership with MassINC and with support from the Solomon Foundation. We’re hosting walk audits in five Gateway Cities, in the area around each city’s downtown commuter rail station, in order to advance better connections to transit-oriented development (TOD) zones and public amenities in these communities.

WalkBoston and MassINC created interactive maps for participants in each community, noting the walking route, and highlighting the sites of pedestrian-involved crashes, social/gathering spaces, and the vast amount of the study area occupied by parking infrastructure. Click here to go to the interactive Google map.

This project not only assesses the neighborhoods’ walking conditions but also looks at the availability of spaces that foster gathering and social connection, such as parks, plazas, community centers, and cafes. Through virtual discussions, as well as sharing written and visual observations, we’re working with residents, municipal staff, and other community members to identify assets and opportunities, and develop program, infrastructure, and policy recommendations based on participants’ visions for the area. In addition to effecting change at the local level, WalkBoston and MassINC will produce policy papers based on the findings from these walk audits to inform state policy and budgetary investment in Gateway Cities.

So far, we’ve completed virtual walk audits in three cities as part of this project: SpringfieldFitchburg, and Brockton. Over the past year, the desire to live in a community with comfortable walking paths, open space, and street activity has dramatically increased as people spent more time at home and in their neighborhoods. The walk audits we’ve already completed have demonstrated that there is a lot of energy and enthusiasm to create more walkable, vibrant public spaces in our partner communities. In Fitchburg, participants are forming a bike/ped committee to advance the walk audit’s findings. In Brockton, residents looking for ways to get more involved in decision-making in their community used the walk audit to connect with municipal staff and each other and learn about joining committees, boards, and task forces.

Next, we’re kicking off our Haverhill walk audit tonight, Thursday, May 27th. This will be the first walk audit in the Gateway Cities series to include an in-person group walk option – we’re excited to get back to walking together again!

Downtown Brockton Virtual Walk Audit

Downtown Brockton Virtual Walk Audit

On April 15 and April 29, 2021, WalkBoston and MassINC conducted a virtual walk assessment with community members in the downtown Brockton area as part of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Mass in Motion grant program, with support from the Solomon Foundation. The two main goals of the Gateway Cities walk audit project are to effect change at the local level to work towards safer, more enjoyable streets and to inform state policy and legislation to prioritize budgetary investment in Gateway Cities across the Commonwealth.

Read the full report here.

Fitchburg Intermodal Center Virtual Walk Audit

Fitchburg Intermodal Center Virtual Walk Audit

On November 30 and December 14, 2020, WalkBoston and MassINC conducted a virtual walk assessment with Fitchburg community members in the Fitchburg Intermodal Center area as part of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Mass in Motion grant program, with support from the Solomon Foundation. The two main goals of the Gateway Cities walk audit project are to effect change at the local level to work towards safer, more enjoyable streets and to inform state policy and legislation to prioritize budgetary investment in Gateway Cities across the Commonwealth.

Read the full report here.