Taking the Next Steps for Healthy Connected Communities

The Shaping Elizabeth Team conducted a walkability audit of the Elizabeth community on Thursday, May 23 in order to assess, “how walkable is our community?” Everyone benefits from increasing physical activity and walking is one of the most accessible activities for most people. Benefits of walking include: improved fitness, reduced risks of certain health problems, cleaner air, and a great sense of community.  But walking needs to be safe and easy! The walkability audit was designed to help us assess how well our Elizabeth community is doing.

10 Members of the Elizabeth community conducted a Walkability audit along with William Riviere, NJ Department of Transportation, staff for Safe Routes to School, interns from Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center and members of the Shaping NJ staff.  We were led by Steven Wong and Layla Frye from Michael Baker Corporation and Charles Brown from Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center. Community members included representatives from the City of Elizabeth, Groundwork Elizabeth, Neighborhood Watch and Elizabeth Police Department.

3 teams of 6 people dressed in orange vests and comfortable shoes conducted 6 walking audits approximately 2 ½ miles each.  The routes included segments along Catherine Street, Madison Avenue, Jefferson Avenue, Elizabeth/Rahway Avenue, Grant Street and Bridge/MLK Boulevard & Winfield Scott Plaza. Routes were pre-selected after data was collected from community members and discussed at a stakeholders meeting on April 23, 2013.

The audit questions included:

  • Did you have room to walk?
  • Was it easy to cross the streets?
  • Did drivers behave well?
  • Could you follow safety rules?
  • Was your walk pleasant?

Each team rated each section on a scale of 1-6 (1 being lowest, and 6 highest).  Subsequently we added the scores up to see where the Elizabeth streets fell in the following ranges:

5-10     It’s a disaster for walking!
11-15   It needs a lot of work.  You deserve better than that.
16-20   Okay, but it needs work.
21-25   Celebrate a little.  Your neighborhood is pretty good.
26-30   Celebrate! You have a great neighborhood for walking.

Teams returned to the Elizabeth Branch to reveal their findings and discuss how the walk felt. Results of the audit will be distributed to the Shaping Elizabeth team in June.  Recommendations will be made to the appropriate agencies in Elizabeth to affect changes which will support a walking community for healthy living.walkability audit 1walkability audit 2

  1. The team getting ready to take to the streets!
  2. Community members access how the area is for walking.

The YMCA of Eastern Union County, Trinitas Regional Medical Center, Groundwork Elizabeth, The City of Elizabeth, Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center, Rutgers and Michael Baker Corporation are working together to Shaping Elizabeth for improved the health and well-being of the residents of the City of Elizabeth.

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