How can my community join forces to address pedestrian issues, decided whether improvements are needed, and determine what solutions should be implemented?
While the benefits of a more walkable community are clear, a more difficult task is to obtain consensus on how and what should be done to achieve a safer, more accessible, and more attractive atmosphere for pedestrians. A comprehensive approach is needed to improve the pedestrian environment.
Identifying and engaging the right people in a community process or project can be the difference between a project’s success and failure. In order to identify an approach that will best meet community needs, it is crucial to identify stakeholders. In other words, those who will be most affected by a walkability project should be involved in the planning of the project. Beyond identifying stakeholders, communities should work to form strategic partnerships and advisory committees to strengthen the planning process.
Stakeholders are those individuals who have either a negative or positive stake in the success of the project. Identify stakeholders by asking “Who will be most affected by the planning effort or walkability project?” Specifically, stakeholders are often individuals or groups of people that:
- Will be impacted by development of policies or plans to enhance walkability
- Have information, experience, or insight to develop policies or plans
- Have power or a position of leadership to either support or block progress of policies/plans
- Have a vested interest in the outcomes
- Are final decision makers or people who must approve the plan
- May support or impede implementation or the policies/plans
- Have been champions or critics of your work in the past
- Are considered visionary thinkers
- Can win consensus within a group setting
Powerful stakeholders will help build consensus for project support, leverage resources, and influence or engage others. Once stakeholders are identified, efforts should be made to keep them involved throughout the project.
Often, existing institutions in a community have a vested interest in making the community more walkable. State and local governments, businesses, public agencies, non-profit organizations, civic associations, schools, and other stakeholders already involved in active living initiatives may form strategic partnerships to leverage expertise, community relationships, and resources. Forming partnerships among stakeholder organizations can add support that strengthens walkability projects from the planning phase through implementation.
To successfully form strategic partnerships, use the following strategies:
- Identify potential partners
- Determine the benefits of the partnership
- Meet with potential partners
- Decide roles and responsibilities
- Develop an action plan to leverage resources
Public Engagement and Advisory Committees
Public engagement is key to building awareness and community support for creating safe and walkable communities. In addition to building strategic partnerships, local governments can engage citizen volunteers by forming advisory boards, commissions, committees or task forces. Local governments can appoint citizen volunteers to advisory committees build support and make recommendations to the legislative body (i.e., mayor and council members) for engineering, plans, and, policies; educational programs; enforcement actions; and encouragement activities and programs. Comprised of diverse citizens and community representatives, pedestrian advisory board or committee members may include law enforcement officials, health industry professionals, transportation or land use planners, parents of school children, parks and recreation professionals, local business leaders, elected officials, advocacy group members, civic association representatives, and local non-profit organization leaders.
For some helpful resources, visit:
- The Public Engagement section of the Toolbox
- The Federal Highway Administration’s Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety Website