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Do-It-Yourself Walk Audit: Identify Ways to Improve Walking Where You Live

Image: Duke Makangila via Creative Commons

The AARP just released a new edition of its do-it-yourself "Walk Audit Toolkit" that anyone can use to advocate for better walking in their community.

The "kit" is a 28-page booklet that can be downloaded as a PDF (or ordered from AARP) to guide teams or individuals in conducting an audit of pedestrian facilities - or the lack thereof - in their communities. By simply walking around, observing, and noting features that allow people to walk safely, anyone can advocate for better conditions for everyone in their neighborhood.

Documenting one's observations can give elected officials and other local leaders important data about safe streets features such as sidewalks, crosswalks, and properly timed traffic lights. It can also help educate everyone about safe street design.

While city planners sometimes collaborate with organizations like SafeTREC and California Walks to conduct organized walk audits to identify needed fixes, anyone can do it. This AARP guide makes it easy to do an audit solo or with others, whenever. And because it's entirely user-directed, people can spend as much or as little time as they want to, focusing on one busy corner or several streets.

The kit includes ten free worksheets that can be printed out and shared separately. They include checklists for evaluating the safety of streets, sidewalks, intersections, and crossings; transit access; driver behavior; a grid for drawing a map; and questions to help think about who is using the street now, how they are, and why.

The ultimate goal of a walk audit is collecting data that can be used to help inform and advocate for better planning so that people can get where they want to go safely and comfortably without having to drive. An audit is an excellent educational and organizing tool, too - or even just a fun group activity for people starved for social interaction after two years of a pandemic.

Download or order a copy or the guide, and find the worksheets, here. Sometime this spring AARP will also release a version in Spanish.

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