Walkability 101.1

by Michelle McDonald | Nov 18th, 2015 | Leave a comment

You follow the sidewalk. It ends. You want a coffee from the across the street. No crosswalk. Cars zip past. You scurry—phew, you made it! You grab a coffee and wait. Yay, space! You can dart again… hoping you don’t spill your coffee. We’ve all been there.

A walk is just a walk, right? Well, that’s not always the case. Your walk could be:

1. Useful 2. Safe 3. Comfortable 4. Interesting and place you and other people first.

In Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America One Step at a Time, Jeff Speck explores walkability and why communities that appropriately use its principles have bustling cores. Spoiler alert: walkability doesn’t only work in large cities– any town center can benefit. Let’s break down items 1-4.

Useful| Sidewalks and crosswalks are useful and give pedestrians places to walk. However, if there isn’t a destination, people might not use them. A walk should mix uses with a balance of and between activities. Walking to greenspace, a coffee shop, the post office and restaurants in the same area provides excitement andStreetview6 economic value.

Increase utility of a walk, think creatively about parking. Parking can often make-or-break downtown visits. Too many spaces? Create a destination; energize a spot with an art display or temporary vendor. Too few spaces? Orient the parking to maximize space. Speck also notes the importance of collaboration between businesses who share parking areas or private lots. Free parking isn’t really free — someone somewhere pays. And, when spaces remain vacant in empty downtowns, someone still pays.

Marrying other transportation types to walking can also benefit a community. Buses, light rails, subways and bike lanes can help enhance walkability because they take individuals to destinations. As we like to say, they provide options for getting about. In any case, non-car transportation options must meet the needs of people and community before it can be truly helpful. Neighborhoods can be walkable without these options, but walkable cities depend on them.

Like Speck mentions throughout his book, cars are fine but put people first and cars in their place. By doing so, your community will be recharged and open to a new world of possibilities. Changes will take time, energy and money—but if this is your community’s shared vision, it will be worth it. Stay tuned…

Some resourcewalkingdwntwns: Jeff Speck Ted Talk, Boston WalkUp case Study, General walkability sources,Small towns vs cities, Parking problems/solutions resource

Is YOUR community ready for active transportation?

by Robin LeBlanc | May 20th, 2014 | Leave a comment

Healthy Eating Active Living NH (HEAL NH) continues its series on Active Transportation with a workshop addressing readiness.  It will focus on teaching attendees

  • how to assess whether your community is ready for active transportation projects
  • at what level are community members ready/not ready
  • how to bring partners into your network.

The workshop will also look at real world examples of how  readiness assessments can be or could have been implemented in communities.

The session is June 3, 9am-noon, at the NH Department of Transportation located at 7 Hazen Drive – Room 114, Concord (J.O. Morton Building): https://goo.gl/maps/Wgr2b.

The session is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is required to hold reserve your seat. Lunch will be provided at 11:30am and there will be optional networking until 1pm.

Please RSVP (and direct any questions) to Nik Coates at [email protected], or 415-4263.



  • Scot Foster: Physical Activity Coordinator, NH Department of Health and Human Services
  • Nicholas Coates (Nik): Active Living Coordinator, Foundation for Healthy Communities



  • 9:00am-9:50am: Using the community readiness assessment tool to determine your community’s readiness for active transportation
  • 10:00am-10:30am: Mock interviews
  • 10:30am-11:30am: Examples of how community readiness assessments worked or could have worked in NH communities
  • 11:30am: Lunch arrives
  • 11:30am-12:00pm: Q&A, Wrap Up
  • 12:00pm-1:00pm: Networking (optional)


Desired Outcomes:

  • Know how to use the community readiness assessment tool and have practiced using it.
  • Know how to identify who to interview in a community.
  • Know how to develop and implement a plan for a readiness assessment in a community.

Materials from the previous sessions here: http://www.healnh.org/index.php/active-transportation/active-transportation-training-series

If you are unable to make this session, but would like to participate in future active transportation learning opportunities, please note these additional opportunities through HEAL NH.

  • June 5: NH Planners Association Annual Conference at UNH Durham Complete Streets How Tow: Plenary and Breakout session – Registration at www.nhplanners.org
  • June 17, 10 a.m.-noon: Active Transportation Technical Assistance conference call with Nik Coates and Tim Blagden (Bike-Walk Alliance of NH) – 866-906-9888 / Participant Code 3974286
  • Additional sessions are currently being organized for the Summer and Fall and more details will follow in the coming weeks.