Day 13: Walk Audit (on your Bingo Card)
A Walk Audit is an invaluable activity that anyone can do to identify improvements to make a space safer, accessible, equitable, and enjoyable for pedestrians. Note that a Walk Audit is not assessing all these just for the able-bodies that are using their own two feet/legs to travel.
While some of us at Walk2Connect are confirmed through our degrees, certificates, and experience to conduct Walking Audits professionally, anyone can step outside and do an assessment of how the built environment feels and what improvements will make it better for themselves and for others. In fact, most of the times we invite local residents, people that work or frequent the area to provide their perspective.
Why is it important that we all know what a walk audit is? Because the built environment won't change by itself (we have the power to influence future planning and transportation) and sometimes the change needs to start with our own sidewalk (in most localities, sidewalk maintenance falls on the owner/business in front of it).
- It can help create a pedestrian-friendly environment
- It increases exercise opportunities for your communities
- It boosts social interaction among neighbors
- It enables people to get around without having to drive
- It can help reduce traffic congestion and pollution
- It can lead to increased property values
Today's WALKtober Challenge is to:
1. Plan a walk around your block or the block around where you work or an area you frequent on a daily basis. Plan for a short route or do this only for part of your daily walk. Preferably urban.
2. Grab your buddy or a neighbor - usually, the more, the merrier. Different perspectives are useful.
2. Bring the checklist list (see below), a clipboard (optional, just helps you take notes better), a blank sheet of paper (for extra notes), and a pen. If you have a stroller, a walker, or a wheelchair (sitting in it), bring one of them along to experience other abilities.
3. Think positive: instead of marking things that are missing, mark improvements that you would like to see. It's an adjustment (I'm working on making the shift myself), but keeps us on the positive side (e.g. instead of missing crosswalk, say crosswalk needed)
4. Try putting yourself in someone else's shoes (or a wheelchair) or skin. Would they feel safe? How about a different time of day (imagine walking at night)?
5. Check the box for each issue you are finding and note the exact location (intersection, address) for future reference.
6. Time to assess. Some questions to ask yourself: Do I need to make changes in front of my house to make the sidewalk accessible? Should I contact the neighbors to advise them on what they could do? How do I contact the local public works/transportation for future improvements? Can the HOA do anything? Your answers will vary, depending on your location.
Here is the 1-pager list I compiled JUST FOR YOU in order to give you a taste of what we do in a professional Walk Audit.
Extra-credit (optional resources, NOT on your Bingo card):
- Find out your neighborhood Walk Score to find out how your address is rated on the scale of walkability to destinations.
- Watch one or two of the Made2Walk videos to find out more about what I do and why I dedicated myself to this type of work.
Ana Lucaci, MPH
Owner, Made2Walk www.made2walk.com
Core-Owner, Walk2Connect Co-op