Disability- and Age-Friendly Walk Audit in Worcester

Disability- and Age-Friendly Walk Audit in Worcester

On Tuesday July 18th, 2023, WalkMassachusetts conducted a walk audit with the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC), WalkBike Worcester, and partners from Worcester’s Division of Public Health working under the REACH grant. The walk audit, focused on disability and age-friendly accessibility, took place around the Webster Square Towers in Worcester. This walk audit location and focus in particular was chosen based on crowd feedback during the Walk Audit Academy’s public sharing session in January when participants in the program talked about their walk audits. A large number of older adults with limited mobility live in the Worcester Housing Authority’s Webster Square Towers.

WalkMassachusetts had the pleasure of hearing the insights of a State Representative, a City Counselor, a public school teacher, and multiple local residents, including some using mobility devices. Staff from the Transportation & Mobility Department also joined; they’ve recently launched the Worcester Mobility Action Plan, which is open for comments through August 14th.

Much of the walk audit focused on intersections between Main Street, Mill Street, and Cambridge Street. Participants noted the difficulty of safely crossing these intersections due to short pedestrian signal times, high vehicle speeds, and long crosswalk lengths. As a visually impaired person, Liz noted the difficulty of crossing with minimal auditory signaling and inconstant tactile paving.

The walk audit also looked into sidewalk infrastructure, overgrown greenery, walking conditions, and amenities.

At the end of the Webster Square Towers walk audit, the group gathered together to share their observations. These comments as well as participants’ written notes will inform a report by WalkMassachusetts, outlining key pedestrian safety issues and recommendations. WalkMassachusetts is grateful for the local engagement at this walk audit and will use community feedback to advocate for more walkable areas in Worcester.

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