Walk Audit Academy

Walk Audit Academy

In the “Walk Audit Academy” video series, we’ll walk you through what goes into performing a walk audit and things you will want to consider when planning a walk audit in your community.

This set of videos introduces WalkMassachusetts’ way of leading a walk audit – we view them as a community engagement tool that helps build local connections and make the case for built environment change rather than a full inventory of each square of sidewalk. 

This work is a product of WalkMassachusetts and the UMass Worcester Prevention Research Center, which is supported by Cooperative Agreement Number U48DP006381 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is part of the Prevention Research Center network. The findings and conclusions in this work are those of the creator(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For more information about the UMass Worcester Prevention Research Center, email umwprc@umassmed.edu. For more information about WalkMassachusetts’ work, email contact-us@walkmass.org.

1: Why is walkability important?

In this video series, we’ll walk you through what goes into leading a walk audit and considerations for planning & performing a walk audit. WalkMassachusetts views a walk audit as a community engagement tool that helps build local connections and make the case for built environment change rather than a full inventory of each square of sidewalk. But first: why is walkability important (and what is a walk audit, anyway?)

Supporting documents and links

  • As you watch the videos in this series, you may come across some terms you do not recognize. Here are a few terms to familiarize yourself with: Glossary of terms (PDF)
  • The tea from America Walks shares more resources on “How to Make Change” on their website.

2: Preparing for a walk audit

Determine the purpose and goals of your walk audit and decide what elements of the walking environment to focus on in your assessment.

Supporting documents and links

3: Collecting data before the walk audit

Crash data can inform your route, while expertise from within the community helps interpret what the data is telling you.

4: Inviting stakeholders

When you include more voices in a walk audit, you can get different perspectives based on how each person uses the same streets and sidewalks.

5: Getting the word out

Now that you’re ready to invite people, what are things you need to make sure are included?

Supporting documents and links

  • There are many virtual tools you may consider to help organize your walk audit. Each comes with its own set of considerations, including its user-friendliness, accessibility, and program capabilities. Whichever platform you use, be sure that participants can easily find important dates and locations, know how to share their input, and have a point of contact. We’ve listed some pros and cons that may help you make a decision: Virtual tools to help organize a walk audit (PDF)

6: Walkability is more than just sidewalks (“Ped101”)

“Ped101” is a primer on the built environment (i.e., the streets and sidewalks). This is a key video to watch before heading out on the street for a walk audit. This video will give participants more info about what goes into creating safe, walkable places; it also helps people identify different features of a roadway that can impact how safe it is to walk.

Supporting documents and links

7: Recording observations

After learning about all the features of the walking environment that you want to look at during a walk audit, it may feel a little overwhelming to go out and try to keep track of everything you observe and experience. Here are a few tools and tips on recording your walk audit observations.

Supporting documents and links

8: Moving to action

Now that you’ve completed your walk audit, the work is not done! Documenting your walk audit will give you and others something tangible to refer back to, and help educate local leaders and decision makers about challenges people walking encounter and opportunities to make things better.

Supporting documents and links

Thank you to everyone who participated in the creation of these videos.

Guest Speakers:
Stacey Beuttell, Miranda Briseño, Dr. Tracy A. Corley, Brendan Kearney,  Ayesha Mehrotra, Mike McGinn

Additional Voiceover:
Brendan Kearney, Ayesha Mehrotra

Script & Research:
Alex Cox, Ayesha Mehrotra, Brendan Kearney, WalkBoston Staff, Karin Valentine Goins

Video & Audio Production:
Brendan Kearney

Cohort-based training program

You don’t have to go it alone: we offer a Walk Audit Academy Training program that works with cohort of 3-5 groups within a community. The program educates residents on how to recognize hazardous walking conditions in their communities and develop the skills and networks necessary to advocate for built environment changes that make streets safer for all users.

In addition to helping empower people to perform their own walk audit, the Walk Audit Academy expands the number of people that we can reach and the number of walk audits that can be conducted – while also building support within a community for improvements to streets and sidewalks. Bring a cohort of the Walk Audit Academy to your community: get in touch.