How walkable is your community?

At some point in the day, everybody  is a pedestrian. When you walk the  dog, walk from your car to a store or  to work, or walk to a restaurant, you  become a pedestrian. It is the same  for children when they walk to  school, a friend's house, or to the  school bus stop. When people walk,  especially children, they deserve to  walk in the safest way possible. And  let’s not forget the plight we all face  as we inch closer to being senior  citizens.

Aside from the fact that the NYS  Department of Transportation’s  highway manual states that  pedestrians …are integral users of  the State's transportation system and  they should be considered whenever  a highway is being constructed or  rehabilitated..., a walkable  community just makes good sense.  Every trip that we can make by foot  gives us a little more exercise and  means a little less traffic.

You can take a closer look at your  community with an eye toward its  pedestrian amenities (or lack thereof)  by using the Walkablility Checklist,  from the Pedestrian and Bicycle  Information Center.

Grab a couple of friends or  colleagues and take a neighborhood  walk. If you do not have a big  downtown area, you might walk  around a school or the town park,  post office, or store. The checklist is  a great discussion tool to get you  thinking about possible problems and  solutions. You may be surprised at what you will discover, and you will see more than if you are looking at sidewalks from the driver’s seat.

Here are some of the questions you will find on the walkablility checklist. A more detailed list can be found on the next page.

In addition to the questions, the checklist provides both immediate answers and long-term solutions to some potential problems, as well as some excellent resources.

You can also find a Bikeability Checklist to evaluate your community’s bikeability. Both checklists can be used by students as a school or class project.

It may not seem like a big deal, but every time we have a chance to make our communities just a little more pedestrian friendly, we improve the health of our community. The more walking we do, the healthier we can be. Let’s make it easier to do the right thing.

Rating walkability

If you do not have access to the web to download the Walkability Checklist, this condensed version of the checklist will get you started. The checklist guides the user in making an assessment of the walkability of an area in question:

Did you have room to walk?

Sidewalks or paths started and stopped

Sidewalks broken or cracked

Sidewalks blocked

No sidewalks, paths or shoulders

Too much traffic

Was it easy to cross streets?

Road too wide

Traffic signals made us wait too long or did not give us enough time to cross

Crosswalks or traffic signals needed

View of traffic blocked by parked cars, trees, or plants

Needed curb ramps, or ramps needed repair

Did drivers behave well?

Backed out of driveways without looking

Did not yield to pedestrians

Turned vehicle into walkers crossing the street

Drove too fast

Sped up to make it through traffic lights or drive through red lights

Could you follow safety rules?

Cross at crosswalks or where you could see and be seen

Stop and look left, right, left before crossing

Walk on sidewalks or shoulders facing traffic where there were no sidewalks

Cross with the light

Was your walk pleasant?

Needed more grass, flowers, trees

Scary dogs

Scary people

Not well lit

Dirty, litter

Lots of traffic

A quick health check

Could not go as far or as fast as we wanted

Were tired, short of breath or had sore feet or muscles

Was the sun really hot?

Was it hot and hazy?

Pedestrian and Bike Resources

Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC)
(919) 962-2202
www.pedbikeinfo.org
www.walkinginfo.org

National Center for Bicycling and Walking Campaign to Make America Walkable
(800) 760-NBPC
www.bikefed.org

America Walks
(503) 222-1077
www.americawalks.org

Accessible Sidewalks
(800) 872-2253
www.access-board.gov

League of American Bicyclists
(202) 822-1333
www.bikeleague.org

Adventure Cycling Association
(800) 755-2453
www.adv-cycling.org

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This work by the Cornell Local Roads Program (CLRP) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.