This proposal is for the second year of a multi year project aimed at increasing the numbers of people who walk and bike through developing, implementing, and evaluating new community-based walkability tools. Rather than trying to solely assess built environment characteristics that may influence walking or biking behavior, this project follows a community change model through involving community participants in self assessments of their environment. Such assessments differ based on the population targeted and outcomes desired, but unlike other national research in this area, this work seeks to facilitate community change along with collecting and analyzing factors about the local built environment.
These goals will be achieved through the development, testing, evaluation, and transferring of GIS and PDA-based tools focusing on measuring and mapping the pedestrian environment. The first tool, the School Environment Assessment Tool (SEAT), will be completed by the end of the first year of OTREC support, and this proposal is to develop additional participatory, micro scale walking and biking assessments, and to evaluate the effectiveness of this approach (both the tool and the process of using the tool) within various communities around the country.
The GIS tools will be developed in a way that maximizes public involvement by local municipalities, school districts, transit agencies, and citizen groups while minimizing the training needs of a general, non-GIS using public. With the data, communities can conduct self assessments of local scale walkability, identify specific geographic areas of unsafe conditions, prioritize areas of greatest need, engage with local transportation officials more productively, and be better prepared to leverage enhancement funds.
The purpose of the tools is twofold: 1) to collect relevant information about the walking environment that can lead to greater safety and an increase in pedestrian utilization; and 2) to catalyze community involvement that can urge public involvement and sustain other efforts to encourage greater walking.
There are three primary components of this second of two year OTREC proposal: 1) develop additional walkability PDA and GIS based audit tools focusing on ADA standards, Complete Streets, and walking environments around transit stops; 2) test each of these tools in communities throughout the country interested in addressing walkability at the local scale; and 3) to conduct an evaluation of the utilization of these tools in the various communities.
Once the tools are developed in the research lab, they will be field tested within communites across the country. Once the tools are in a completed form, there will be a process of technology transfer to put these tools in the hands of localities across the country.
This project will be done in collaboration with the National Center for Biking & Walking (NCBW), a national nonprofit organization working with communities across the country to support efforts of pedestrian infrastructure improvement and increases in the numbers of pedestrian trips. Their national scope and influence in the areas of walking and biking brings this work to a national audience, which further enhances Oregon’s reputation as a leader in the area of livable and healthy communities.