Coming soon: universal walkability toolkit
Walk [Your City], a civic startup focused on fostering urban livability, is working to develop a universal walkability toolkit that will help residents get involved in making their downtowns more walkable, according to program materials.
Walk [Your City] started as a “guerrilla wayfinding” operation in Raleigh, N.C., according to City Lab. Simple signs, zip-tied to light poles at key intersections, let residents and visitors know what attractions and amenities can be found within walking distance, and how many minutes it will take to get there.
With the help of a kickstarter campaign, Walk [Your City] founder Matt Tomasulo was able to expand the movement.
Today, the program works by linking informational street signs with web-based campaign management and data collection to complement a downtown’s current wayfiding infrastructure. Walk [Your City] helps users plan and design signs, which are then constructed and sent to volunteer groups. These volunteers install the signs on city streets, and walkers can use their smartphones to scan the signs’ QR codes for directions.
More than 100 communities have used Walk [Your City] including Greensboro, N.C., Santa Fe, N.M., and Mount Hope, W.V.
“We have talked and talked and talked about creating a healthier community,” Michael Martin, Mount Hope’s mayor, said in a video about the project. “A healthier community because we get out and walk… because we exercise. We haven’t done a whole lot about that up until now, but I think this will allow us to do a little more. I had to take a new look and a fresh look at my own community. And it was pretty interesting for me to do.”
With the receipt of a $182,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Walk [Your City] is looking to expand once again. The group will partner with government representatives and civic organizations in Lexington, Ky., and San Jose, Calif., to develop a universal do-it-yourself toolkit cities can use to encourage residents to walk rather than drive, according to program materials.
To develop these toolkits, the cities, supported by Walk [Your City], will launch educational wayfinding campaigns to engage residents in creating street signs and other tools to help people easily navigate City streets. The pilot program will be used to experiment to work towards a universal toolkit for cities everywhere.
Feedback from these two cities and community partners, along with assessment of program data will help improve Walk [Your City]’s software. The organization plans to release the universal toolkits at the end of the year.
“Young, college-educated adults are attracted to walkable urban cores, but too many of our citie are not built to deliver that kind of lifestyle,” Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation vice president for community and national initiatives, said in a statement. “This toolkit has the potential to help people bridge that gap by inviting them to make their own walkable neighborhoods, with appealing signage that nudges new behavior.”