Dave's Notes from the CDC AIM Conference on Walkable Communities
Walking was the big topic at the AIM Conference, April 28-30, 1999, in
CDC has noticed that incentive programs don't work in the long run to keep
people fit. Once the incentives are turned off, people don't keep up the
exercise. The next approach is to focus on building walkable communities so that
people will find it easy to walk (the most basic human mode of transportation)
and get exercise as part of going about their daily lives.
The best predictor of whether people will walk in a particular place is the
presence of other walkers. Walkers on the street provide "eyes on the street."
This discourages crime and makes a place more livable.
Peter Moe of the Bicycle Federation of America showed slides of distinctly an
unwalkable America. Once you see it it's obvious why we don't walk. We should
design places for a 2 mph child walker. Let the cars slow down. Who needs to be
caught in a traffic jam on a 6 lane highway anyway?
The number one killer of pedestrians is cars. Slowing them down
The BFA and others have developed a walkable community checklist. Take your city
council member and invite a mom with a child in a stroller to walk around your
neighborhood and note the impediments to walking. Do the sidewalks go all the
way to the corner? Are there sidewalks? Are there curb cuts? Can you cross the
street safely? Are there utility poles in your way? The checklist is on their
web page, http://www.nsc.org/walk/wkcheck.htm or
http://www.walkable.org/bios.htm. It is a simple and effective eye
Another site: http://www.hsrc.unc.edu/publicaware/walk .
We met in Chattanooga because the city has the good fortune to be in a position
to have a walkable downtown. The main streets have trees, wide sidewalks, and
calm traffic and a lovely riverfront to head to. During
the days there are lots of people walking. I didn't see that many people walking
at night, but I felt safe enough.
David Crockett, the President of the Chattanooga City Council, reported that
"every road we take out makes the city healthier."
For urban areas the Walking Schoolbus is a great idea. It's like the mommy
carpool only without the car. The idea started in Australia and was picked up by
Toronto. Tom Samuels was then hired from Toronto to put the program into place
in Chicago. A set of trained police officers help communities plan their routes,
find city resources to fix the curbs, paint the crosswalks, and remove the
graffiti. Parents and kids get together and plan and then they walk. Parents
wait at their doors for the "bus" to come by, then they send their kids out to
join the walking bus.
No more waiting in traffic to drop your kids at school. No more idling cars
waiting to pick kids. Parents join the walk and get to know their neighbors.
They own the program because they chose the route and lobbied
Walking to school even enhances cognitive development. Kids who were driven to
school couldn't draw an accurate map of their neighborhood. But the kids that
walked or biked had good cognitive maps of where they
were. This has got to transfer to other spatio-temporal tasks.
Chattanooga has a Greenway and Trail system in the northern suburbs. The most
important component of the success of a green bike pedestrian path is local
initiative. If the folks who live there want it, the government gets responsive.
I reported on our own the Burlington-Winooski Rail Bridge Trail project which
seems to have all the right local elements for success.
We took a hike up the North Chickamauga, which is a kayak able whitewater river
within 20 minutes of downtown Chattanooga.
[log in to unmask]
Vermont Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports