Over the past 40 years, obesity rates have soared among children and adults in the United States. These increases have contributed to the development of chronic conditions such as pulmonary disease, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. In Fall 2011, WalkSanDiego wondered if we could help reverse this trend by getting doctors involved; specifically, to have doctors write prescriptions... for walking. Read more..
While we're working hard to change city standards and funding policies at all levels of government, working with neighborhoods is WalkSanDiego's prime niche. The first need is usually education on pedestrian-oriented design and traffic calming for speed-plagued streets. Sometimes we also help negotiate the labyrinth of city government. Local traffic engineers know that working closely with residents is the ideal way to design traffic calming treatments and pedestrian improvements. But few cities can afford the staff time. That's where WalkSanDiego comes in. Normally, we can offer only limited training on traffic calming and pedestrian design, and sincere wishes of good luck. But now, neighborhoods with a few resources hire us for small contracts of $3000-$5000 to help identify and prioritize danger hotspots and suggest solutions, lead walks, and conduct safety trainings, community forums, or walking campaigns. See examples here:
Next Steps Project
The neighborhoods least likely to seek WalkSanDiego's help are those at greatest risk: low-income communities where families own fewer vehicles, kids still walk to school, and at least one parent commutes by public transit. As a result, minority pedestrians are hit by cars two to four times more often. Using our time-tested methods, the Next Steps Project [1-page PDF] helps these communities become safer for walking through:
Culturally appropriate presentations showing how a truly walkable neighborhood looks and feels.
"Walk audits" to look at problems and identify potential solutions.
Mapping exercises with residents, including children, to identify danger zones.
Working with city engineers to reduce speeding, install safe crossings, and make navigating streets easier for persons with disabilities.