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.
- Did you have room to walk?
- Were there sidewalks where you wanted to walk?
- Were the road shoulders wide enough?
- What condition were they in?
- How did the drivers behave?
- Were they speeding?
- Was it a pleasant experience?
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.
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
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
Not well lit
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
National Center for Bicycling and Walking Campaign to Make America Walkable
League of American Bicyclists
Adventure Cycling Association