Walking Summit Dispatch

Photo: Ted Eytan

Last week’s first annual Walking Summit was great–lots of informative sessions, dedicated people, and fun exercise breaks. Attendees came from different parts of the country, for different reasons–some advocate walking for health and fitness, others for economic development or social equity. These are not unrelated issues, of course, which is why focusing on walking and walkability makes so much sense as a way to make progress on many issues at the same time.

I was there to present Shareabouts as a tool for planning safe walking routes, neighborhood plans, and walk safety audits.

In her session on Safe Walks to Transit, Sally Flocks from PEDS in Atlanta had some great advice–when you’re conducting a walk safety audit, bring along transportation engineers. Have them try to cross the dangerous streets you’re trying to get fixed. Sometimes it takes seeing the problem first hand for them to understand.

The beauty of Shareabouts is that it is easy to set up and very flexible. This safety audit that Mass in Motion Salem is doing has very specific criteria for people to choose from. If your organization is working with your city or town’s Department of Public Works and their transportation engineers, agreeing to use the terminology and definitions they use can help you understand each other.

In the WalkBikeWeHo project, on the other hand, the planners wanted more qualitative information — Is this a comfortable place to walk? Respondents always have the option to add more descriptive information, and photos, and to share their thoughts on social media.

As always, we’d love to hear how you think Shareabouts might work for you.

Other highlights of the summit included meeting the inspirational Vanessa Garrison, co-founder of GirlTrek, and hearing her speak about how her organization encourages and supports women and girls walking on a daily basis; and walking to an evening reception with Ted Eytan, Kaiser’s Center for Total Health’s Physician Director and chief walking-meeting cheerleader.