Walk audits are an excellent tool to critically evaluate the safety, comfort, and aesthetics of a street’s walkable landscape. These facilitated walks are meant for interdisciplinary groups of community stakeholders with the following goals in mind:
- To guide people to experience and assess the physical activity and healthy eating “friendliness” of an area.
- To inspire and help leaders and policy makers explore possibilities.
- To get people actively involved in project and policy development and allow all voices to be heard.
In Austin, TX partners put this concept to work this past Spring with great results. Street Plans Collaborative partnered with the City of Austin and the YMCA of Austin to lead a community walk audit in North Austin near Rundberg Lane. A diverse combination of transportation, community professionals, and police officers worked together to evaluate streetscapes while learning about the importance of walkable communities. Thank you to Street Plans Collaborative for leading this informative celebration of National Walking Day!
Other Plan4Health coalitions from both cohorts have utilized walk audits as well. As part of the larger plan to improve safety and the overall pedestrian experience, the St. Louis coalition was able to take community feedback gained through various walk audits to help pinpoint key challenges. More on these efforts here.
In Cohort Two, the coalition in Sacramento, CA recognized the importance and value of walk audits and participated in a training held by the Department of Public Health. Back east in Mecklenburg, NC, the coalition used walking and biking audits to determine how safely residents could walk and bike to popular destinations around town. These audits helped inform recommendations to improve walkability and bikeability and represent one of the six key strategies the coalition is using to improve community health.
For more ideas, check out Mark Fenton’s Tips on Leading a Walk Audit.
Photos and content related to Austin, TX courtesy of Laura Dierenfield and Blythe Carter.