Photo by Bruce Burgess

Walkable Community Workshop Guidelines

Introduction | Workshop Guidelines | Workshop Training | Important Dates

Every workshop begins with a detailed presentation by one of our experienced instructors. The presentation introduces the audience to the notion of walkability and its importance. More than this, we make the connection among walkability, public health, economic viability, and related quality of life variables.

The instructors then lead participants on a guided walking tour of the neighborhood. During the walk they will point out good design, existing barriers to walking and bicycling, and dangerous conditions sometimes encountered. This is also a chance for group members to take the lead, to ask questions of the instructors, to begin envisioning alternatives.

This exercise gets people talking. For the people on the walk (and the television news cameras that frequently accompany the walks), there is no more powerful teaching moment than the mayor walking in the street because of cars parked on the sidewalk; or the city engineer recognizing just how difficult it is to cross the 4-lane highway by the school; or watching the group member in the wheelchair attempting to cope with no sidewalks, missing curb cuts and poorly designed ramps.

The real work (and the real fun) begins after the walk. Everyone meets back at the workshop venue, as participants divide up into small groups and gather around large aerial maps of the walking area. Their mission: to redesign their community for walking and bicycling. For this they can draw on ideas from the presentation, the discussion during the walking tour, and their own creativity.

After 20 or 30 minutes the group reassembles. Each team gets a chance to pitch its suggestions to the rest of the group. Once all the ideas are out, the instructors become facilitators. The community actions plan begins to come together. The plan will be developed by taking the best ideas generated during the planning session, and matching them with participants' commitments to action.

So that's all, right? We've done our part and now you are on your own, right? Not at all. If we have done our part, these workshops will be the beginning (or continuation) of your city's or neighborhood's commitment to walking and bicycling. The National Center for Bicycling & Walking will be there with you to offer ongoing technical assistance. Think of this continued support like you would a warranty on a new car (or, more appropriately, on a bicycle).