Walking College 2018 Module #1: Why Walking (April 30 – May 20)
After completing this Module, Fellows will be able to:
- Discuss why people walk and the history of car-oriented design in the US
- Identify the cross-cutting co-benefits of walking and walkable communities
- Explain how walkable communities increase social equity while gentrification reduces it
- Summarize the Surgeon General’s Call to Action and the principles of Vision Zero, Safe Routes to School, and Complete Streets campaigns
- Research, understand, and communicate data to support campaigns
Walkability and Livability
View this archived webinar, which was first broadcast in 2016 (1 hour)
- Speaker: Mark Fenton (Tufts University)
- Summary: Join America’s best-known Walking Champion, Mark Fenton, for an inspiring presentation on why walking and walkability matter. A former competitive race-walker, Mark will explain why walking has been central to human existence throughout our history until we lost our way in the twentieth century, and how the walking advocacy movement has worked to repair the damage in the last 20 years. Most importantly, he will lay out actions and strategies that enable everyone to contribute to making our communities more walkable and increasing walking as a practice.
- Additional Resources
- How the Car Became King in America (Vox)
- The Problem with Designing Streets for Cars Instead of People: Copenhagen-based designer Mikael Colville Andersen discusses how our relationship with the street has fundamentally transformed over time for the worse in most places and what we can do better to create people-friendly places.
- Distraction, On Street And Sidewalk, Helps Cause Record Pedestrian Deaths (NPR): This article chronicles the recent spike in traffic fatalities in the US with a specific focus on record-breaking pedestrian deaths.
- The End of Walking (AEON): an essay by Antonia Malchik, who argues that Americans have been stripped of their right to walk.
- A look at pedestrian blaming:
- The Walkable City (TED talk by Jeff Speck): Urban designer and author Jeff Speck discusses the importance of making our cities more people-friendly.
- Every City Should Have a Law of Two Words: Pedestrians First (video blog by Gil Penalosa): Gil Penalosa makes the case for putting pedestrians first.
Benefits of Walking and Walkable Communities
An array of fact sheets to review and familiarize yourself with.
- Health Benefits (Steps to a Walkable Community fact sheet)
- Safety Benefits (Steps to a Walkable Community fact sheet)
- Transportation Benefits (Steps to a Walkable Community fact sheet)
- Economic Benefits (Steps to a Walkable Community fact sheet)
- Good Walking is Good Business (blog post by WalkBoston)
- Social Equity Benefits (Steps to a Walkable Community fact sheet)
Walkability, Gentrification and Other Equity Considerations
- The Problems of Success in the New Urban Era (article by Robert Steuteville): Robert Steuteville discusses how walkable places are in growing demand, helping to fuel growth in property values that risk pricing out low-income residents, along with some ideas for dealing with these “problems of success.”
- The Inequality of Sidewalks (Washington Post): A look at the racial disparity in resources as basic as sidewalks in cities
National Campaigns Promoting Walking and Walkability
These links provide an overview of some of the existing policy pushes aimed at improving walkability and street safety nationally. Please review each and be familiar with their scope and aims.
- Step It Up! (executive summary of the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities)
- Vision Zero (letter from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio)
- Vision Zero Action Plan (powerpoint presentation by New York City)
- Safe Routes to School 101 (article by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership)
- The 6 Es of Safe Routes to School (article by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership)
- Getting Started in Your Community (article by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership)
- Complete Streets Policy Development 101 (powerpoint presentation by the National Complete Streets Coalition)
Changing Trends Affecting Walking and Walkability
- Walking is Going Places: Foot Power, Happiness, and the Common Good (Common Dreams): Jay Walljaspar offers an overview of some of the factors generating new interest in walking and walkability.
- Traditional Development Is a Municipal Gold Mine (The American Conservative): Chuck Marohn of Strong Towns describes how cities can benefit financially from more compact, traditional design.
- What Millennials Want—And Why Cities Are Right to Pay Them So Much Attention (CityLab): How changing preferences of America’s most populous generation are spurring more demand for walkable places.
- Will 75 Million Baby Boomers’ Desire for Walkability Impact City Planning? (PR Newswire): How walkability benefits America’s rapidly-aging population.
- Some predict that automated vehicles will tilt the traffic hierarchy in pedestrians’ favor. How Driverless Cars Could Empower Pedestrians (CityLab).
- Meantime, the automated vehicle movement hit a grim milestone recently with the first pedestrian killed by a self-driving vehicle: Uber Suspends Self-Driving Tests After Pedestrian Is Killed In Arizona (NPR)
What is walkability?
- The Most Walkable Cities and How Some Are Making Strides (Governing): Defining walkability
- 10 Techniques for Making Cities More Walkable (CityLab): What are some of the common characteristics of a walkable place? A review of Jeff Speck’s book Walkable City.
This section is not mandatory reading, but instead comprises a list of tools and resources to assist you with measuring and defining walkability in your town and/or making the case for improvements. It is worth familiarizing yourself with each of these tools for use in your Walking Action Plan and beyond.
- Conducting Pedestrian Counts: See the Pedestrian and Bicycle Resource Center’s resources on the benefits and how-tos of conducting pedestrian counts.
- The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s County Health Ranking and Roadmaps: Offers a snapshot of health by county and state based on a variety of health factors, behaviors and outcomes
- Mode Share, Vehicle Ownership, Household Economic Conditions and more: The U.S. Census Bureau’s American Fact Finder is a vehicle for exploring a wealth of statistics related to vehicle ownership, mode share, household income and poverty levels and more. Transportation statistics are most readily found in the American Community Survey database. Tip: By plugging table number BO8301 into the search field at top, along with the geography you wish to collect information on, you’ll be able to get one of the best sources of information available on how people get to work (a proxy for how they get around more generally) in your community.
- Alliance for Bicycling and Walking 2016 Benchmarking Report: This report offers detailed information on policies, infrastructure investment, mode share, and more related to walking and biking by states and city.
- Pedestrian Crash Statistics: Some communities make this information easy to get while others don’t. Getting this data may be as simple as looking at your local transportation department’s website or as complicated as calling your local police department, planning office or Metropolitan Planning Organization. This report from the Governors Highway Safety Association contains current statistics on pedestrian fatalities by state.
- AARP Liveability Index: An online tool for measuring the liveability of any location in the U.S. across a variety of dimensions.
- Take a walk. Go for a walk in your community, ideally but not necessarily with someone else. Keep the walk to about 1-mile at most. Take note of who and what you see. What makes this walk enjoyable or unappealing? Return home and write up your notes along with a description of what you experienced. Make note of some of the pieces of information you think it might be useful to include in making the case for walking/walkability improvements in your walking action plan. You will return to this activity at the end of the course to see how your perspective has changed.
- WAP assignment: Decide on a draft definition of the community of focus for your walking action plan. Your community could be as small as a neighborhood or as large as a county or parish. In a page or less summarize key features of your community that will be important to consider for your walking action plan. Even if you don’t yet know where to get the information, consider creating placeholders for such characteristics as population, income, race, vehicle ownership, disability status, mode share, walk score, and pedestrian crash rate. Larger cities may find some of this information already summarized in the Alliance for Bicycling and Walking Benchmarking Report included in the “additional readings and resources” section near the bottom of this module page. Keep in mind that the smaller your community, the easier your plan may be to craft and the more readily achievable its goals. Conversely, the smaller your geography, the more difficult it can sometimes be to collect useful statistics. In addition to defining your community, come up with a few broad goals related to what you hope to achieve through your walking action plan. This document will be submitted to your mentor for review ahead of your first mentor meeting. For more on Walking Action Plans, including examples, click here.
- See how your community stacks up for walking. Using the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Fact Finder, research your community’s walk, bike and transit mode shares. Using WalkScore.com, see how your neighborhood and city rate for walkability.
- Research the status of pro-walking policies in your community. Is there a complete streets policy in place? What about Vision Zero or Safe Routes to School program? What are your state’s rules regarding pedestrian right-of-way? Does your state or community have a vulnerable road user law in place?
- Think about how many of your daily activities require getting into a car. Experiment with spending a day without driving. What do you discover about your community?
Facilitated Discussion, Led by Mentors: Week Two (Week of May 7th)
- Q1. How if at all have module readings and lectures cause you to rethink your relationship to the street or the meaning of the street? Did anything you read or watched surprise you? What article or video did you get the most out of and why?
- Q2. If you’ve already taken a walk as part of your module assignments, what did you discover about your community that you hadn’t previously noticed?
- Q3. How are the gentrification implications of walkability relevant to your community? Are walkable areas in growing demand? What sorts of efforts (if any) are afoot to keep desirable places affordable? What has your community experienced vis a vis walkability investments in low-income areas and/or what sorts of safety concerns are most pronounced in these areas?
Fellows Only Discussion: Week Three (Week of May 14th)
- Prompt #1: What experience or event first sparked your interest in walking/walkability?
- Prompt #2: What are some of the walkability challenges that exist where you live and what are some of your long term goals for improving your community?
- Prompt #3: What are you most interested in learning more about as part of this program?
- Prompt #4: What professional or personal experience will you lean on as a walking/walkability advocate? What do you consider your strengths in the advocacy realm?