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Community Safety

Project Looks at Walkability of Springfield Neighborhoods

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Michele Skalicky
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The Healthy Living Alliance has completed the assessment portion of a project that looks at the walkability of Springfield neighborhoods.  KSMU's Michele Skalicky has more.

Several community organizations and around 500 volunteers, including area college students, helped with the project, which surveyed 11 neighborhoods covering all City Council zones.

"And they actually walked each block of streets and neighborhoods, and each block was a segment, and they would indicate is there a sidewalk?  What condition is it in?  They would look at traffic.  They would look at destinations.  They would also look for things like public recreational facilities and then abandoned houses and things like that could be safety issues within the neighborhood, so we really touched on a variety of factors," she said.

Angela Fillbeck, neighborhood project coordinator for the Healthy Living Alliance, says one aspect was visiting neighborhood events to get citizens’ input.  One way they did that, she says, was by putting up large cardboard signs for people to write what they’d like to see in their neighborhood.

Fillbeck says neighborhoods can use the information in a variety of ways—like pushing for more or better sidewalks, creating neighborhood watch programs or:

"If it's just a matter of getting neighbors out walking more they could obviously start a walking group or maybe a walking map that the neighbors could use, you know, of a safe route or something like that," she said.

Plans are in place for temporary signs that tell walking distances to various businesses in the Woodland Heights neighborhood.  And a Drury architecture class is planning to help neighborhood associations with projects they’d like done.

According to Fillbeck, studies have shown that having pedestrian friendly cities results in increased public health and safety, reduced crime, a lower healthcare cost, reduced infrastructure needs, increased housing values and improved retail revenue.

You can find out more about the walkability project by visiting hlaspringfield.org.

A panel discussion on the project will also be held at Missouri State University on September 17 during an Inaugural Conference on Civic Engagement from 8 to 5 in the Plaster Student Union.  The event is free and open to the public.  To learn more, click here.

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