Author: WalkMassachusetts

Roosevelt Ave Walk Audit in Springfield

Roosevelt Ave Walk Audit in Springfield

On Thursday July 20th, WalkMassachusetts joined WalkBike Springfield, Wayfinders, Mass in Motion Springfield, and local residents to complete a Walk Audit of Roosevelt Avenue. After a round of introductions, the group left from Springfield High School of Science & Technology  (SciTech), and continued down Roosevelt before turning back at the Wilbraham Rd intersection.

This walk audit was part of a bigger WalkBike Springfield effort. With support from America Walks and the Safe Roads Alliance, the group is gathering input regarding how people use Roosevelt Avenue, how safe they feel, and what changes they would like to see on the 3.3 mile stretch of Roosevelt in Springfield from Island Pond Road to East Street. This corridor reaches the East Forest Park, Upper Hill, Bay/McKnight and East Springfield neighborhoods. More info can be found here.

Walk Audit participants begin at SciTech with some introductions and friendly conversation.

This stretch of Roosevelt Ave had previously been highlighted by residents as an area of concern, given the many dangers faced by pedestrians, particularly those at SciTech. People driving frequently hurtle down the road at speeds well over 40 mph; there is one sidewalk along the street, and no crosswalk directly connects the school with the sidewalk on Roosevelt.

WalkMassachusetts Deputy Director of Advocacy Brendan Kearney uses a radar gun on Roosevelt Ave, observing speeds well over the legal limit.

Walk Audit participants identified a clear need to implement more traffic calming measures and expand the crosswalk and sidewalk network. Better maintenance of existing pedestrian infrastructure was also discussed, with overgrown vegetation both blocking walkways and obscuring driver views.

Due to Roosevelt Avenue’s high speeds and a lack of crossings, participants chose to wear high visibility vests on this walk audit.

All the written notes, observations, and conversations between WalkMassachusetts and other participants will be instrumental in generating a final report of the audit. The information will allow us to highlight pressing issues in pedestrian safety, supporting advocacy efforts to create a safer Springfield for all.

WalkMassachusetts expresses its gratitude to our collaborating partner organizations, local community members, and MAPC, the funding source for this project. The collective effort demonstrated during the Walk Audit is a significant step towards fostering a more pedestrian-friendly Springfield.

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.

Exploring East Boston with Caminatas Seguras

Exploring East Boston with Caminatas Seguras

On June 13th 2023, WalkMassachusetts joined East Boston community members on a walk led by GreenRoots, a non-profit dedicated to improving the local urban environment and public health, with a focus on Chelsea and East Boston. The walking group Caminatas Seguras meets weekly on Tuesdays to help promote walking as a way to enjoy local public spaces, be physically active, and build connections with residents who have historically been excluded from public decision making processes.

Senior Program Manager Iolando Spinola and Summer Intern Chiara Palagi join GreenRoots and Caminatas Seguras on a walk through East Boston.

Around 25 participants, including Senior Program Manager Iolando Spinola and Summer Intern Chiara Palagi, began at Piers Park, a local space overlooking the Boston Harbor. The group engaged in lively conversations throughout the walk, with topics including new developments in the area, recent and upcoming community events, and even just catching up with one another on an individual level. Passionate GreenRoots volunteers provided historical context and relevant information about the spots along the path.

John Walkey of GreenRoots gives community members historical context on spots encountered during the walk.

The day’s route passed by landmarks such as the ICA Watershed gallery and the Navy Fuel Pier park. With a breathtaking view of the Boston skyline across the harbor, the park’s lush green spaces and well-maintained paths provided the perfect setting for our walk.

Members of the East Boston community admire the view from Navy Fuel Pier park.

Our walk culminated at East Boston Memorial Park, giving GreenRoots volunteers the opportunity to engage with the community members and share upcoming events and opportunities for involvement. Information and flyers were distributed bilingually, showcasing local initiatives, events, and programs aimed at addressing pressing issues in the neighborhood while involving and empowering residents.

Through walking, conversation, and shared experiences, the bonds between community members and activist groups grow stronger every week in Caminatas Seguras, paving the way for a more connected and engaged East Boston. WalkMassachusetts is grateful to have had the opportunity to join GreenRoots and Caminatas Seguras for this experience.

New Wayfinding Signs Installed in Brighton

New Wayfinding Signs Installed in Brighton

On Tuesday June 13th, 2023, WalkMassachusetts installed wayfinding signs in Brighton to make walking more accessible and straightforward in the area. This project is part of the larger research project Community Walks, which is in partnership with Boston Medical Center (BMC) and Boston Housing Authority (BHA). Designed by Nina Garfinkle, principal of Garfinkle Design and a WalkMassachusetts Board member, the signs point pedestrians towards local destinations with clear markings of walking and biking distances.

WalkMassachusetts Deputy Director of Advocacy Brendan Kearney and Board Member Nina Garfinkle install wayfinding signs along the sidewalk. These signs direct pedestrians to local parks, the library, Brighton Center, and other nearby points of interest.

Wayfinding signs encourage people to choose active modes of transportation in a way that is both safe and easy. The new signs in Brighton will help various community members, including residents of the Faneuil Gardens Boston Housing Development buildings, walk with more ease.

Staff Member Iolando Spinola and Summer Intern Stella Pintar are joined by Gianna Fernandez, a Boston Medical Center Healthy Living Advocate (HLA).

In total, 49 new signs were put up in the Brighton area. WalkMassachusetts appreciates our partnership with BMC and BHA and is excited to bring this project to areas around Boston. If you see one of these signs, be sure to scan the QR code to find maps as well as more information about the various walking routes. Additionally, feel free to explore the Community Walks page on our website to learn more about this project.

Westhampton Walk Audit

Westhampton Walk Audit

The Hilltowns CDC, together with Healthy Hampshire and WalkBoston, are leading a 5-year grant project to promote Age-Friendly Walkability in the Hilltowns Town Centers. Together with community residents and leaders, the team will be conducting a series of walk audits in partnering Hilltowns. The goal of these walk audits is to identify infrastructure improvements and policy changes to make town-center walking safer and more enjoyable for people of all ages in the Hilltowns. The Town of Westhampton is one of the partnering communities in this grant project.

Read the full report here.