What are Walkability Audits?
Walkability audits are an informal or formal procedure to examine and evaluate the walking environment in a given neighborhood or area of interest, such as walking routes around an elementary school or retail district. The audit's purpose is to "identify concerns for pedestrian related to the safety, access, comfort, and convenience of the walking environment" (WalkingInfo).
Audit teams can include neighbors, parents, employees and business owners, elected officials, and the city staff who maintain streets, sidewalks, and paths - anyone who lives or works in an area that could be safer for pedestrians, motorists, and bicyclists. Auditors use an 'on-the-ground' approach to experience the walking environment. Additionally, the team approach facilitates stakeholder interaction, and can allow disparate stakeholder groups to find common ground (literally!) as they conduct the audit. Oberservation and experience can spur communication and common interests.
Walkability Audits in Humboldt County
HumPAL's first walkability audit took place in 2005. Since then, ten audits have been conducted throughout Humboldt County, including:
- Rio Dell
- West Eureka
- Public Health Worksite (Eureka)
- Alice Birney Elementary
- South Fortuna Elementary
- Grant Elementary
- Lafayette Elementary
Resources and Examples
If you're looking for more information on walkability audits, WalkingInfo is a great place to start. WalkingInfo's website provides detailed instructions for both formal and informal walkability audits, policy development to encourage walking, funding for walkability advocates, and other tools and resources.
The WalkScore website allows users to enter their address to estimate the walking score for the surrounding neighborhood. The WalkScore website analyzes the surrounding neighborhood for proximity to goods and services (such as grocery stores, restaurants, and banks) as well as the street and sidewalk layout. The area surrounding our office in Eureka rated 89/100 - a respectable score for a non-metro area!
The walkability checklist is a basic audit tool developed by the US Department of Transportation, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the National Center for Safe Routes to School, and the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center. In addition to the audit checklist, the tool contains resource links for pedestrian safety, audit assistance, and more.
Walkability Checklist [PDF, 900KB]
City of Flagstaff Metropolitan Planning Organization
The City of Flagstaff's MPO has conducted two walkability audits as part of their Flagstaff Walks! Campaign. Visit their walkability web site to see the reports from La Vieja Plaza and the Fourth Street Corridor.
Alice Birney Elementary School Walkability Audit.
County of Humboldt DHHS Public Health Branch Walkability Audit.