Brian's House Building Blog

How to Encourage More Walking in Your Community

by Peyton Sanders

To foster a healthy community, you may want to work with a town planner to create more opportunities for exercise for your citizens. In particular, there are key things you may want to do to encourage more walking. Take a look at these ideas.

1. Add More Walking and Biking Paths

People in your community will tend to walk more if they have access to places to walk. Consider working with a town planner to figure out the best places to put trails. For instance, you may want trails linking large residential sections and the urban centre of your town.

Similarly, you may want to add walking paths through parks — citizens can come to the parks just to use the paths, or the paths may entice parents who are watching their kids practice footy or play on the equipment, to take a walk.

2. Create More Natural Areas

If possible, you may want to think about adding more natural areas to your town. If a river or creek runs through the town, consider developing the area along the banks to give residents a place to stroll along. Alternatively, consider revegetating abandoned lots, and turning them into natural areas with paths running through them.

In addition to encouraging exercise, access to nature can also boost the mental health of your community. Time in nature is linked to a deduction in stress, anxiety and similar issues.

3. Slow Traffic Speeds in Some Areas

In some cases, even if there are walking paths, citizens may still decide not to walk. If you believe that this is happening due to safety concerns, you may want to lower the allowable traffic speeds in some areas. Similarly, you may want to add barriers between the streets and the walking paths.

In particular, look at routes that children may take to schools, and lower the speeds in these areas. Then, consider doing a public education campaign to let families know about the new, safer routes — town planners can also help you with these types of campaigns.

4. Encourage Walking in Commercial Districts

Many commercial districts are setup to accommodate drivers. They tend to have lots of parking spaces in front of shops. Instead, consider boosting public transit to these areas or putting parking garages on the fringes of the areas. Then, reduce traffic speeds through the area, and consider getting rid of some lanes of traffic and replacing them with walking paths.

For more ideas or for help with this project, contact a town planner directly.