School and communities interested in making their communities more walk and bike friendly should consider performing a walkability and bikeability assessment to evaluate the environment and identify areas of concern for pedestrians and bicyclists related to safety and access. Walk and bike assessments help schools, parents and community members identify barriers that make it difficult or dangerous to walk and bike to school and around the community. The assessments evaluate the sidewalk, road and neighborhood conditions and identify solutions and improvements that can walking and bicycling safer and more convenient. Summer is the perfect time to gather participants for a short walk or bike around town or your school!
(1) Form your team:
You can do an assessment by yourself, but it is a good idea to include residents, school administrators, parents, teachers, students, municipal engineers and planners, or local elected officials. The more input you have and stakeholders you include, the better your assessment will be. Make sure you have a team leader who will collect all the assessments when you finish and summarize the results.
(2) Map your school:
Draw out a route to or from the school that you will follow and be sure to include streets where children often walk or bike. You can also follow routes where there are areas of concern that need to be addressed. It is usually recommend that the route be at least one half mile in length, since conditions differ from street to street. You can use paper road maps or use our online tools to Map Your School Neighborhood.
(3) Pick a day and time:
The best days to perform these assessments are Tuesdays through Thursdays (the “average” school day), during the times when children will be traveling to and from school. If you are assessing other areas throughout the community, pick a time when most pedestrians and bicyclists are seen using the area.
(4) Prepare your materials:
Bring a camera to take pictures of your route, particularly to note areas of concern.
(5) Collect all the assessments:
Make sure all participants turn in their assessments and photographs to the team leader. The leader should use the assessments to summarize the existing conditions and areas of concern for walking and biking around the school neighborhood for inclusion in the School Travel Plan.