Rural Walking

Rural Walking

WalkBoston began its work in rural communities with the publication of Rural Walking in Massachusetts: A Tool Kit for Municipalities. In Massachusetts’ early days of European settlement, walking was the primary mode of travel and all residents where expected to attend church every Sunday. Town boundaries were drawn with an acceptable three-mile walking distance (about a one hour walk) around the town center. This walking-scaled early development pattern is one of the reasons that so many Massachusetts towns have some good “walking bones” to work with when we help community members advocate for better walking conditions.

Over the last 75 years, the car has taken over as the primary mode of transportation for rural residents. As a result, many roadways are now dangerous for people walking to and around town centers.

WalkBoston conducts walk audits in rural communities to help identify ways to strengthen connections to village centers, connect people with regional open space assets, and improve safety along narrow roads often used by fast-moving auto and truck traffic. Many towns have adopted Complete Streets policies that make them eligible for the MassDOT Complete Streets Funding Program that can provide technical assistance funding to develop priority plans and can also provide funding for capital projects such as sidewalks, safer street crossings and better lighting.

Where We Work provides a statewide map identifying those rural communities who have worked with us to improve walking conditions. Visit our Resources page or search our recent posts for more information on rural walking in Massachusetts.