How do you move through your neighborhood? Do you feel comfortable walking or rolling, or is driving the only safe mode? A walkable community connects neighbors and builds strong and resilient relationships, improves public health, and builds wealth for people who live there. Good sidewalks and safe intersections provide access to services and jobs and make independent living easier for youth, elders, and people with disabilities. Use these tips and resources to do your own walk audit:
- Choose your location. For your first audit, start small with one intersection or your regular walking route. Draw a map of your audit area or print out a Google map.
- Invite your neighbors. More perspectives will illustrate a clearer picture of walking in your neighborhood. Disabled people, elders, children, parents with strollers, and other especially vulnerable people experience our streets and sidewalks in ways that often aren't addressed by top-down transportation projects.
- Gather your supplies. You'll need writing utensils, your map and some paper, a clipboard, and a camera or smartphone.
- Think about walkability. Make a checklist (or print out one from Safe Routes Partnership or AARP) of what makes an area comfortable and pleasant for pedestrians. Keep those elements in mind as you set out on your audit.
- Audit! Walk through your chosen area, staying alert for car traffic while observing sidewalk conditions, crosswalks, and other factors that affect pedestrians. Mark your checklist, take notes, and snap pictures of positive and negative conditions.
- Regroup and review. Back at home, go through your checklist and score the area. Talk about what you observed with your fellow auditors. Did you get the same impressions of walking conditions? Did ability, age, or gender affect your perception of safety and ease of movement?
- Take action. Present your findings at your next neighborhood meeting. Request improvements from your city's Public Works or Transportation department. Organize a neighborhood trash pick up day. Volunteer to help neighbors with overgrown bushes with yard work. Borrow our equipment and implement a traffic calming demonstration. Ask your neighbors not to block curb cuts, sidewalks, or bike lanes. Report broken sidewalks and illegal dumping to your city's 311 hotline. The City of KCMO takes 311 reports by phone, on Twitter, through the myKCMO app. The Unified Government of WYCO/KCK takes 311 reports by phone or on the myWYCO app. Safe Routes Partnership has more ideas for "right now" walkability and longer-term projects.
You can shape the future! This is a great activity for families, youth groups, and neighborhood associations to get hands-on experience in advocacy and make tangible change for their communities. Need help taking your walk audit to the next level? See our CompleteKC DIY Guide for inspiration, and contact us with your questions and ideas. We would love to help!