Saturday, November 07, 2009

How easy or hard is it to walk in your neighborhood?

Photos by Scott Yeazle

Today I attended a walkability audit. Twenty people met at the Grand Recreational Community Center. People met and discussed issues around streets, roads and sidewalks for about one hour. Then the group walked around East and Central Hillside. The meeting was led by Jim Skoog from St. Louis County Public Health

The following is a press release:

Research shows a link between urban design and inactivity, obesity and health problems. The workshop will highlight ways in which local land use and transportation decisions affect walking habits, personal health and overall physical activity. The workshop is designed for community officials, transportation planners, neighborhood residents and other local stakeholders. The workshop will identify real-world problems in the area around 6th Avenue East and help to create hands-on solutions.

During a four-hour workshop, local participants identify opportunities to reduce barriers and enhance opportunities for walking in their community – and build consensus on improving conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Walkable communities accommodate all types of transportation, including cars and transit, but focus on a safe and convenient environment for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Examples of design and planning “tools” available to promote a walkable community include:

  • Neighborhood and community public gathering centers, parks, and open space
  • Sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes and trails
  • Traffic-calming roadway design or road “diets”
  • Benches, lighting, trees and plants
  • Housing created closer to work
  • Nearby shops, restaurants and amenities
  • Public transportation

The workshop was facilitated by Fit City Duluth and St. Louis County’s Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) and the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission. Other support for the workshop was provided by the Duluth-Superior Area Community Foundation, Duluth LISC, and Neighborhood Housing Services.

To register for the workshop, contact Jim Skoog at St. Louis County Public Health at 725-5240 or email