A Community Effort To Get Australian Kids Walking

Walk to school logo for Aussie campaign

Every October is ‘Walk to School’ month in the state of Victoria, in south-east Australia. Primary school students get some top-down encouragement to walk to and from school. This proactive program gets everyone going – children, parents, teachers and street-crossing guards. It aims to set new habits in motion.

Parents and teachers help kids keep track of their walks using the ‘Walk to School’ website, app or class calendar. Children play interactive games on the app, earn items for an imaginary ‘Walk to School’ journey with each completed walk, and compete with other schools.

The ‘Say G’day Challenge’ is a highlight on Friday October 24.  Each child on foot or on bike who says “G’day” to their local street-crossing guard receives a ticket to enter a draw for special prizes.

Last year more than 32,000 students from 303 primary schools took part in ‘Walk to School’.

Details and photo of logo from:

http://www.maroondah.vic.gov.au/WalkToSchool.aspx

A Pedestrian Plaza in New York City

Image

In Brooklyn, the No. 3 subway line ends at New Lots Avenue, where passengers descend from the elevated tracks to what used to be a nasty intersection, trafficked by prostitutes, drug dealers — “You name it,” as Eddie Di Benedetto, the owner of Caterina’s Pizzeria, put it the other day.

Not long ago, a coalition of local merchants and community leaders turned to the New York City Department of Transportation, which runs a program to make traffic circles, triangles and streets into pedestrian plazas. The department brought in some potted trees and chairs, closed off a short street and voilà, what had been a problem became a boon. Since the plaza opened last summer, crime has plummeted, Mr. Di Benedetto told me, crediting the local police precinct. He heads the New Lots Avenue Triangle Merchants Association.

“People use the place all the time now, meaning the area is watched and safe,” he said. “I’ve had my pizzeria since 1971, so I can tell you, this is a renaissance.”  

 

From: “A Street Corner Serenade for the Public Plaza” by Michael Kimmelman, New York Times, June 2, 2013.

Read more:   http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/02/arts/design/a-prescription-for-plazas-and-public-spaces.html?_r=0

What’s the Walkability of Your Neighborhood?

Image

What is Walkability?

                (From: http://www.janeswalk.org/information/resources/walkability)

Walkability is a quantitative and qualitative measurement of how inviting or un-inviting an area is to pedestrians. Walking matters more and more to towns and cities as the connection between walking and socially vibrant neighborhoods is becoming clearer. Built environments that promote and facilitate walking – to stores, work, school and amenities – are better places to live, have higher real estate values, promote healthier lifestyles and have higher levels of social cohesion.

When you think of an area you like to walk, it probably has certain conditions or features that make it walker-friendly. For many that means wide well-maintained sidewalks, benches, good lighting, direct routes, interesting stores, buildings and amenities. For others it might mean shady green spaces, quieter routes or places where strollers, dogs and scooters are welcome. Walkability is a subjective measurement – some people like to stroll quietly on side streets, while others seek out the hustle and bustle of busy commercial districts. Often these subjective considerations are about our desire to be safe, other times it’s about aesthetic preferences.

Examining the walkability of a neighborhood, town or city is an important factor to consider when thinking about making places more welcoming, livable and safe. Areas where lots of people are around, shopping, going to work or school, or just hanging out are considered more desirable living places which promote social connectedness, healthy lifestyles and reduce car dependence and greenhouse gas emissions.

Our Walkability Tool Kit is a very basic introduction to the concepts of walkability and offers some simple tools to help you measure and capture the walking environment in your neighborhood. The process helps connect local residents, raises awareness about what makes a community walkable, and the data and observations collected can be useful in the larger goal of making improvements.

For Walkability Tool Kit:   http://www.janeswalk.org/old/assets/uploads_docs/2010_walkability_checklist_janes_walk.pdf

See also:   http://tidescanada.org/about/change-makers/janes-walk-and-centre-for-city-ecology/

                  http://www.janeswalk.org/information/resources/walkability