I wasn’t planning a pedestrian theme for the last two days but after blogging about the challenges the Haymaker Parkway presents for pedestrians to cross in Kent, I happened to also come across an interesting article from Pasadena California that talks about their community evaluation for walkability. They’ve enlisted a walkaround team to take notes about how hard or how easy it is to walk around their city. Promoting pedestrian activity is important to them so they’re putting themselves through an open book test to get a gauge for what they need to work on to get serious about walking around town. Granted, it’s a whole lot warmer in Pasadena than Kent this morning but I really like the spirit of their effort and as we seek to make Kent more pedestrian friendly it’s a good model to use.
PASADENA – Checklists in hand, more than 100 volunteers will fan out across downtown Saturday for the first evaluation of the city’s “walkability.”
Covering just under 29 miles of streets and alleys in Old Pasadena and the Central, South Lake and Playhouse districts, teams of walkers will be asked to rate how safe and pedestrian-friendly city streets are, and if it’s easy and convenient enough for people to park once and walk from one district to another.
“We’re looking for the good, the bad and the ugly,” said urban designer and planner Deborah Murphy, the project consultant. “In essence we’re all pedestrians … when we leave our cars.”
While covering 24, roughly 1.2-mile, routes through downtown, the volunteers will take photographs for the record, check the list, fill in comments and later make recommendations, Murphy said.
Teams are made up of environmentalists, urban planning experts, city workers, architects, elected officials – including Mayor Bill Bogaard, and Councilmembers Jacque Robinson and Steve Madison – and neighborhood residents “who are really concerned about walking conditions,” Murphy said.
They’ll be asked to evaluate everything from how easy it is to understand instructions for parking meters to any “unpleasant smells” and junk on public spaces.
Plus “How wide sidewalks are, if there’s shade, a place to sit down, convenient public transportation, obstacles, broken sidewalks, contractors’ fences,” Murphy said, and if connections between the districts are simple and usable enough.
Safety is a prime concern, she said, and volunteers will be asked to rate street lighting, difficulty of crossing streets, whether motorists allow pedestrians to cross and obey speed limits, and if cyclists and skateboarders use sidewalks.
“Pasadena has some wonderful pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods right now, and we want to build on that and make the entire downtown an enticing place for people on foot,” said Carla Walecka, Downtown Pasadena Walkabout chairwoman and a Playhouse District board member. “We want people to do their shopping, get to their jobs, have lunch or dinner, entertain themselves, all on foot.”
Distances between the city’s prime shopping and entertainment districts are less than people probably imagine, Murphy said, and it can be just as easy to park in one place and walk – or take an ARTS shuttle bus – than find parking places for doing separate errands.
“It’s not really that far from Old Pasadena to Paseo Colorado” in the Central District, she said. “People think it’s a long way away, but when you walk there you find how close they really are. And we need to walk for our own physical health.”
The Walkabout participants will set off Saturday from Pasadena Presbyterian Church on Colorado Boulevard after a keynote speech by Bogaard, a walking proponent who has invited everyone interested to join him at 7:45 a.m. the first Wednesday of every month for a walk around the Rose Bowl.