New Advocates

Walking College 2018 Module #1: Why Walking (April 30 – May 20)

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Study Materials
Required Activities
Optional Activities
Discussion Forums
Additional Readings and Resources

Learning Objectives

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
Study Materials


The Experience of Walking

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

Benefits of Walking and Walkable Communities

An array of fact sheets to review and familiarize yourself with.

Walkability, Gentrification and Other Equity Considerations

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.

Changing Trends Affecting Walking and Walkability 

What is walkability? 

Measuring Walkability

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.

Activities

Required Activities

  • 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.

Optional Activities


Even if you don’t complete these activities for this module, they might all be useful in the development of your Walking Action Plans.

  • 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?
Discussion Forums

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?
Additional Readings and Resources


These are not required, but are intended to augment your personal library and serve as a source of supplementary information to the required readings. They are broken down by subject matter.

The Experience of Walking

National Campaigns Promoting Walking and Walkability

Status report on Step it Up, the former U.S. Surgeon General’s Call to Action on Walking and Walkability. 

Changing Trends Affecting Walking and Walkability

Measuring Walkability

Automated Vehicles and Walkability