America Walks recently announced the formation of the Transit-Walkability Collaborative, whose purpose is to expand safe, healthy, equitable, and sustainable communities by harnessing the synergy between walkability and quality public transit service.
The nine founding members of the new coalition work at the national, state, and local level in the walkability and transit advocacy movements. They are Center for Transportation Excellence, American Public Transportation Association, National Association of Public Transportation Advocates, Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Circulate San Diego, WalkDenver, Health by Design/Indiana Citizens’ Alliance for Transit, WalkBoston, and America Walks. Each organization has signed on to a shared Statement of Purpose, which can be found on the America Walks web site here.
The Transit-Walkability Collaborative notes that integrating walkability and public transit helps to create safe, affordable, and enjoyable neighborhoods, whose residents complete their daily activities while owning fewer vehicles and driving less often. These communities experience significant public and private-sector cost savings, lower rates of traffic fatalities, reduced air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, higher levels of physical activity, and a better quality of life – especially for low-income families.
“Walkability and transit advocacy complement each other and accomplish common goals neither can achieve on its own,” said Ian Thomas, State and Local Program Director with America Walks and coordinator of the Collaborative. “By ensuring a high level of service for both walking and public transport, we stimulate mutually-reinforcing community benefits that help address a range of social problems – from health to economics to quality of life.”
According to Executive Director Kate Kraft, America Walks has worked for one year to assemble the Collaborative and agree on a common purpose. “Our shared goals are to improve public health, safety, and transportation equity,” she said, “by developing complementary planning efforts, increasing funding for active and public transportation, and supporting transit-oriented development that is designed to benefit existing residents and neighborhoods.”
The Transit-Walkability Collaborative has identified long-term objectives in the areas of research, communications, capacity-building, and policy change, and adopted a 2017 Action Plan. One of the first priorities will be to conduct an environmental scan of walkability and transit advocacy groups, and then expand the circle further. “We also plan to reach out to organizations with primary interests in bicycling, disabilities/access, social equity, public health, and smart growth,” said Thomas.
Several upcoming events are being planned to stimulate more interest and discussion about the alignment of walkability and transit campaigns. A fact sheet will be published in March in conjunction with a special webinar, and an online survey will be launched at the same time – to collect information about the ways walkability and transit advocates are collaborating around the country and what support they need. To get the latest information on the Collaborative’s efforts and more, sign up for our mailing list here.