A New Engagement Resource for Mobility Managers: The Inclusive Walk Audit Facilitator’s Guide

  • Author: Guest Contributer - Emily Smoak, Minnesota DOH
  • Date: March 22, 2021
Members of the Inclusive Walk Audit Facilitator’s Guide working group in Minnesota outside on a walk audit using assistive mobility devices.
Members of the Inclusive Walk Audit Facilitator’s Guide working group outside on a walk audit using assistive mobility devices. Photo Credit: Minnesota Department of Health

In late February, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) had the opportunity to connect with mobility managers across the country on an NCMM webinar focused on virtual engagement (webinar archived here).

MDH shared a developed resource which aims to make pedestrian transportation planning more inclusive of people with disabilities: The Inclusive Walk Audit Facilitator’s Guide

What’s a walk audit?

Walk audits are a common public engagement activity used within pedestrian planning. During a walk audit, participants walk a predetermined route to identify issues that impact their ability to walk safely and comfortably. They provide their thoughts on questions like “Is it easy to cross streets?” and “Do you have enough room to walk?” as well as generate ideas for improvements. This feedback informs planning processes like city pedestrian plans, street redesigns, and maintenance strategies.

While people with disabilities are more likely to rely on walking for daily trips and may be more aware of and impacted by problems in the transportation network, walk audits often are not accessible to or inclusive of people with disabilities. Planning and street design processes benefit from incorporating the expertise of people with disabilities; when a street is accessible for people with disabilities, it is accessible for all people.

With extensive input from a working group of people with a variety of disabilities, we developed the Inclusive Walk Audit Facilitator’s Guide. The guide includes recommendations to plan a more inclusive meeting and to conduct a more inclusive walk audit. Recommendations are applicable to in-person and virtual engagement. The guide also discusses suggestions to create a virtual walk audit.

An example of a virtual walk audit is found via this link. To create this virtual walk audit, we used a GoPro to record a person’s experience walking along a street, then uploaded the videos to a Google map. Participants in the virtual walk audit watched the videos to experience walking along the street and filled out short surveys with their reactions.

How can mobility managers use the guide?

The Inclusive Walk Audit Facilitator’s Guide can assist mobility managers in their day-to-day work by complementing their key roles:

  • Design and Plan: Use walk audits to bring together people with mobility challenges and government staff/officials to identify solutions to walkability issues
  • Understand and Advocate: Use walk audits to document and highlight problems faced by people with mobility challenges and use to advocate for their needs
  • Convene and Facilitate: Use the tips in the Guide to facilitate more inclusive meetings of all kinds
  • Inform and Connect: Use a virtual walk audit platform to help clients preview routes or learn how to access key destinations
  • Launch and Sustain: Use walk audits as an evaluation tool to assess how well pilot transportation improvements are working

 

Questions? Reach out to Emily Smoak at emily.smoak@state.mn.us.

We’d love to hear from you!

Have more mobility news that we should be reading and sharing? Let us know! Reach out to Kirby Wilhelm (wilhelm@ctaa.org).