Small Towns Walking Summit (captioned)

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What I’ll be talking about today is a project we at the National Physical Activity Society conducted for two years, interviewing towns of 25,000 or fewer people that have made changes promoting walking and biking. All of it is available on our web site at physicalactivitysociety.org Three ideas to discuss today: Show you what some of the smallest towns have done to promote walkability Advantages of having Champions/cheerleaders And mention economic benefits to communities that have made such changes.

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Soap Lake Washington -a town of about 1,500 BEFORE, on decline for decades.

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Mayor Raymond Gravelle. “This was do or die.” They got some help from the Rural Communities Design Initiative at Washington State University. Citizens learned about good design, collected community input, and put in the hours of work to go about saving their town.

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Soap Lake After. Street level lighting, curb cutouts to invite pedestrians in, wide sidewalks.

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Hebron Nebraska 1,500 They walked in the mornings in the gym or around the school. Hebron draws school students from as much as 30 miles away. So they have buses drop off students at the town square about a mile from the school and walk together that last bit.

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Hebron, Nebraska 1,500 Principal Kurk Wiedel No Child Left on Their Behind “Get the right people involved—passionate people. One person is great but having several involved is important.” He noticed they had a new trail, and it turned out they had a bit of money left over that they would happily share with their neighbors. Talking about their plans led directly to more funding!

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Hebron 1,500 Pours concrete. Four entities paid for different sections and volunteers poured.

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Sergeant Bluff Iowa 4000 before and after BTW, you can hear more about Sergeant Bluff and two other towns in this presentation on an archived webinar on our web site. Available free. Collective action to get sidewalks is a common theme – different entities paying for sections of sidewalk to be poured, volunteers helping put them in. City 2007 let developers not put in sidewalks. Residents who moved in wanted sidewalks, though. The city then spent $220,000 to add sidewalks -- and promptly made sidewalks a requirement for any new developments. Start with quick wins. ➢ The schools are what sparked the jump to community changes. ➢ Assemble a group of people who have passion for the community

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Davidson NC 12000 Town planners have preserved open space by disallowing drive-through windows and requiring all new commercial buildings to be at least two stories high. Instead of widening a highway that runs through Davidson’s downtown, the town instead created parallel, connecting streets, making roads safer for pedestrians. The town requires new neighborhoods to connect to adjacent ones and undeveloped property via new streets and greenways.

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Davidson NC 12000 Recommends creating a diverse mixture of destinations that can be easily reached by foot or bike. This will ensure that there are places for people of varied interests. Get feedback from residents. People living and working in the area can give firsthand knowledge on what changes to enhance walkability and safety would be most effective.

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Sulphur Springs Texas 15000 City manager Marc Maxwell sent me this photo of Sulphur Springs courthouse square BEFORE. It’s a parking lot.

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Sulphur Springs after Sulphur Springs AFTER Citizens fought tooth and nail about taking away the parking, but the day the sod went in to form this courthouse square, people brought picnics to start watching and using it as a destination. Now it’s used for Friday night family movie nights, there’s a fountain kids can run around in. Cinqo de Mayo celebration… People seek being downtown now.

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Sulphur Springs Areas downtown have become better developed. Marc Maxwell says A) If you’re gonna take away people’s parking you’ve gotta look ‘em in the eye and tell ‘em. And B) just about every day someone comes up to him and tells him how proud they are to live in this town now. This is another town featured on the January webinar archived on our site.

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Sulphur Springs A couple of side notes on Sulphur Springs: Town is known for its glass-sided public toilets on the square. This is in front of a giant chess board. Tourist attraction.

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Sulphur Springs, Texas Knew they had succeeded when the couple getting married looked around and said HERE is where I want to hold our wedding.

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Molalla, Oregon 8000 StoryWalk® features books on stakes in a public location for people to read as they walk through the story. Posts are cemented into the ground and pages laminated. While the loop for any one story is typically only about a half mile, the attraction of coming out to see it leads to outdoor play at nearby playgrounds.

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Molalla Oregon 8000 Provided lots of opportunity for young families to get out together.

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Heber City Utah 13000 Wasatch County 26000 Slow going but sidewalks are appearing over a long period of time. Funding for ongoing projects can be hard to come by. Find ways to do the work anyway.

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Columbia Penn 10,000 Several parks in the borough of Columbia were run down, and a master plan identified the need for improvements. Mayor Leo Lutz. four acres now refitted with a trail system and a new building with educational center. Involve everyone you can think of, from the very beginning. The more people and the more public, the better your chances of success.

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Hernando Mississippi 15000 In Hernando, a very conservative town, the mayor said he couldn’t’ find money for sidewalks. The people argued. So he gave them the budget and said You find it. And they did.

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Hernando, MS 15,000 Get feedback. People wanted bike lanes and sidewalks. They like connecting with their community on foot. Even the naysayers may turn around. One man was angry about bicycle lanes in front of his house until he noticed traffic going much slower. Now he is one of the most vocal supporters.

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Madisonville KY 20,000 Railroad overpass, which people were using without sufficient walking space, putting themselves in danger. Because other ways of walking weren’t existent. The governor happened to visit for an unrelated issue and asked what Madisonville needed. “Sidewalks!” came the answer. Now the community has more sidewalks, which see lots of use. “If you put people on the defensive, they don’t want to help you.”

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Eufaula Alabama 13000 Rails to Trails added a trail along the lake several years ago, recently extended. The trail goes past the middle and high schools, along with the private school, so kids use it to walk to and from school.

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Eufaula waterfall Scenic

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Eufaula 13k If you look carefully, you’ll find a good dose of kitsch

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Decorah, Iowa 8000In town, there had been a history of opposition to sidewalks. A group of local business leaders decided it wanted to connect sidewalks together, and their approach to the city was “We’re doing this, and we hope you will be with us.” With prominent champions, Decorah got sidewalks. Nothing communicates more than seeing people use the sidewalks you have. Contrast that image with the sidewalks you need.

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Decorah, Iowa 8000 Then residents began focusing on the loop, 11 miles of trails around the city. Some sedentary individuals rode bicycles for the first time in 20 years

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Brentwood Missouri 8000 Brentwood sees quality of life as the biggest benefit. Businesses and families support parks and walkability, and health is a side benefit. Talk with residents early and often for truly engaged citizen involvement. When possible, provide requested amenities (e.g., benches); citizens will support projects more.

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Traverse City 15000 Economic benefits are huge. Involvement – A road was widened without any pedestrian or cycling provisions. Citizens banded together and formed what became a trail advocacy group. Now have 25 miles of trails.

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Traverse City $15,000 One trail network provided $2.6 million into the local economy, mostly due to special events. People are paying to live in areas where they can walk and bike. “Start somewhere; it doesn’t have to be big!” Gather people and get started.

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Canton Connecticut 10000 Barriers along the trail kept people confined to either on the trail or off. People spend money locally when non-motorized transportation brings them to town.

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Canton CT 10000 ➢ Learn about “bike-onomics,” the evidence that cyclists make smaller, more frequent purchases

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Canton CT Collinsville Sales receipts went up. From August of one year to the next after the barriers were opened, businesses closest to the trail saw 100% increase in sales. Even after the novelty wore off they continued to see sales increases, with a ripple effect of more sales closest to the area where the trail meets the town. Brought activity to this central part of town, as you can see even beyond walking and bikong.

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Soap Lake, Washington 1,500 mayor Hebron, Nebraska 1,500 school principal Sergeant Bluff, Iowa 4000 PH and city engineer Davidson NC 12000 PR dept Sulphur Springs Texas 15000 city manager Molalla, Oregon 8000 Extn Service Heber City Utah 13000 PH Columbia Pennsylvania 10,000 mayor Hernando, Mississippi 15,000 mayor Madisonville Kentucky 20,000 director of the Y Eufaula Alabama 13000 mayor Decorah, Iowa 8000 Brentwood Missouri 8000 city administration Traverse City, Michigan 15000 trail advocacy group director Canton Connecticut 10000

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What I heard repeatedly during the course of intereviews: Get the right people involved – enthusiasm! – and talk about the project a lot. You might get funding from unexpected sources, you might have to cobble it together. Churches and businesses and others banding together to pour sidewalks. Process like Safe Routes to School served as openings to lead to broader work in the town, and the same for Rails to Trails. More than anything else, I heard Town Pride. The project is called Stories from Small Towns – issued two editions

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What I heard repeatedly during the course of intereviews: Get the right people involved – enthusiasm! – and talk about the project a lot. You might get funding from unexpected sources, you might have to cobble it together. Churches and businesses and others banding together to pour sidewalks. Process like Safe Routes to School served as openings to lead to broader work in the town, and the same for Rails to Trails. More than anything else, I heard Town Pride. The project is called Stories from Small Towns – issued two editions

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Soap Lake to Sulphur Springs: Small Towns Improve Walkability Pam Eidson, MEd, PAPHS National Physical Activity Society Presented at the 2017 National Walking Summit

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This presentation has been modified from the original. Captions have been added where points were verbalized and elaborated.

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Yes, Even the Smallest Towns

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Soap Lake, Washington, 1,500 Before: Declining for decades

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Soap Lake, WA, 1,500 Mayor: “Do or Die”

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Soap Lake, WA, 1,500 After: Destination

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Hebron, Nebraska, 1,500 Kids bused from 30 miles

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Hebron, NE 1,500 Principal: “No child left on their behind”

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Hebron, NE, 1,500 4 entities paid for concrete

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Sergeant Bluff, Iowa, 4,000 Collaboration to get sidewalks

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Davidson, North Carolina, 12,000 Neighborhoods must connect

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“Get feedback from residents” Davidson, NC,12,000

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Cheerleaders

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Sulphur Springs, Texas,16,000 Before: Courthouse square parking lot

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Sulphur Springs, TX,16,000 After: Downtown is destination

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Sulphur Springs, TX,16,000 City manager: People are proud to live here

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Sulphur Springs, TX,16,000 Family movie nights, events, and glass-enclosed public toilets

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Wedding in the Street? Sulphur Springs, TX16,000 People like downtown so much this couple chose to get married there

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Molalla, Oregon, 8,000 StoryWalk® walk-through books

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Molalla, OR, 8,000 Families gather

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Heber City, UT, 13,000 Funding is hard; find ways to do the work anyway

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Columbia, Pennsylvania, 10,000 Green space added. “Involve everyone.”

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“If you wake up and decide you want to be healthy, you should have that opportunity available to you.” --Chip Johnson, Mayor, Hernando, Mississippi, 15,000

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Hernando, MS, 15,000 Naysayers might become your biggest champions.

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Madisonville, Kentucky, 20,000 “If you put people on the defensive, they don’t want to help you.”

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Eufaula, Alabama, 13,000 Rails to Trails added and extended trail

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Eufaula, AL, 13,000 Scenic, also a route to the schools

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Eufaula, AL, 13,000

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Decorah, Iowa, 8,000 Champions got sidewalks

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Economic Benefits

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About 10 times a year, the trail is used for fun runs and other events, pumping money into the economy. -Decorah, IA, 8,000

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Brentwood, Missouri 8,000 Provide requested amenities like benches to get more support

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Traverse City, Michigan, 15,000

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Traverse City, MI, 15,000 25 miles of trails; one trail network put $2.6 million in local economy

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Canton, Connecticut, 10,000 Opened fenced trail to the town

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Canton, CT, 10,000 Business sales receipts up 100%

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Canton, CT, 10,000 Brought activity downtown

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15 Towns Populations range from 1,500 to 20,000

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Themes Get people involved: Cultivate champions Talk about projects – communicate, communicate Processes like Safe Routes to School and Rails to Trails serving as openings to lead to other walkability work in the town Churches and businesses and others banding together to pour sidewalks Town Pride

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Photos provided by Soap Lake: Tamara Blalock for the town, courtesy of Mayor Raymond Gravelle Hebron: Kurk Wiedel Sergeant Bluff: Aaron Lincoln and Angela Drent Davidson: Town of Davidson Sulphur Springs: Marc Maxwell and City of Sulphur Springs Molalla: Beret Halverson. StoryWalk® is trademarked by Anne Ferguson. Heber City: Jonelle Fitzgerald, Wasatch County Columbia: Mayor Leo Lutz Hernando: Mayor Chip Johnson Madisonville: J. Stephen Conn, http://bit.ly/1MQu7EJ. Under Creative Commons License.

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Photos provided by Eufaula: Mayor Jack Tibbs Decorah: Lindsay Erdman and Chad Bird, City of Decorah Brentwood: Brentwood Parks Department Traverse City: (1) Michigan Municipal League. Used under Creative Commons License. http://bit.ly/1YHKc3p (2) Bruce Bodjack for Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation Trails (TART) Canton: Neil Pade, Town of Canton

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Stories from Small Towns 1st and 2nd editions http://physicalactivitysociety.org/stories-from-small-towns/ Pam Eidson, MEd, PAPHS NPAS Executive Director

Summary: Small towns that made changes to promote walking and biking

Tags: small towns walking tips quotes inspire physical activity

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