Inclusive and Interdisciplinary (I2) Walk Audits are a way to transform communities through public participation to focus on built environments that are safe, inviting, and encouraging of active transportation.
Multiple federal agencies (including the CDC, NACDD, and NCHPAD) created the Reaching People with Disabilities through Healthy Communities grant program to assist state governments and local communities to better work collaboratively to address poor nutrition, physical inactivity, accessibility issues, tobacco use and exposure for people with disabilities, community coaches and disability advisors for Montana and two communities, Butte Silver-Bow and Helena, were among the project’s partners.
During the grant project, the communities developed procedures, training, and leaders to engage public input on community improvement opportunities. These community partners organized the collective experiences and gained knowledge into a toolkit that the CDC launched in March 2020. The workshops and audits resulting from this project (and referenced in the toolkit) are continually leading to greater reach and impact. Some of the success stories can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/reachingpeople/stories.html
During this grant project, Montana-based experts and organizations chose to explore the connection between walkability and inclusiveness through walk audits. A huge stride in inclusiveness and walk audits came when walkability expert Mark Fenton worked with Montana partners, Dr. Meg Traci and Cathy Costakis, to create the I2 Walk Audit format.
More information about Mark Fenton and his work can be found at http://markfenton.com/about.html
Fenton developed the Interdisciplinary Walk Audit model to form a diverse group to conduct built environment audits. During presentations and partnerships with Dr. Meg Traci with the University of Montana Rural Institute, Cathy Costakis with the Montana Nutrition and Physical Activity Program, Montana Independent Living Project, Montana Disability and Health Program, and local health departments, they developed the Inclusive, Interdisciplinary (I2) Walk Audit format. This format focuses on utilizing a diverse, inclusive, and representative group to plan and lead walk audits to create sustainable change.
Walk audits are a tool to gather invested individuals to explore an area while learning from each other’s lived experience and knowledge. Moving through an area while engaging in thorough conversation with people with different perspectives provides deeper insights into the zone’s attributes and what opportunities there are for improvement.
Any proposed enhancements can then be documented, and changes requested.
There are a number of informative documents regarding how to conduct a walk audit:
• AARP Walk Audit Toolkit (and Leader Guide): https://www.aarp.org/livable-communities/getting-around/info-2014/aarp-walk-audit-tool-kit.html
• America Walks “How to Conduct a Walk Audit in Your Community”: https://americawalks.org/how-to-conduct-a-walk-audit-in-your-community-quick-guide-for-assessing-your-neighborhood-walkability/
• Safe Routes to School “Let’s go for a Walk. A toolkit for planning and conducting a walk audit”:https://www.saferoutespartnership.org/sites/default/files/walk_audit_toolkit_2018.pdf
• Mark Fenton “Tips on Leading a Walk Audit”: http://www.markfenton.com/resources/TipsLeadingWalkAuditFenton.pdf
During I2 Walk Audits, the group looks at these four categories:
- Land use: Are there different types of destinations; live, work, shop, play, learn, pray?
- Network of facilities: What is the quality accessible sidewalks, bike lanes, trails; transit?
- Site design: Are buildings at sidewalk or set back; is there bike parking; is design inviting & functional?
- Safety & access: Is there ADA or PROWAG design, crossings, traffic (too much, near, or fast); other dangers or discomfort?
Interested in attending an I2 Audit in Lewis and Clark County? Contact Sarah Sandau at firstname.lastname@example.org.