Over 170 volunteers – including a dozen representing AARP Lehigh Valley – teamed up with community collaborators to take part in the Lehigh Valley Community Walk Days, conducting 100 walk audits in Allentown, Easton, and Bethlehem neighborhoods to prioritize safety, improve community walkways, and increase accessibility.
Organized under the Age-Friendly Lehigh Valley Regional Plan, AARP Lehigh Valley joined forces with the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, and Age-Friendly Lehigh Valley to conduct the walk audits.
Volunteers participating in the walk audits were trained on how to observe and evaluate the walkability of a neighborhood, identifying and documenting if and how pedestrians can safely travel along a street, navigate an intersection, and get from Point A to Point B and C.
The results of this year’s walk audits were shared during a recent Age-Friendly Lehigh Valley Walk Audit Volunteer Breakfast held to also thank the dedicated volunteers and partners who helped to make each walk audit so successful.
The audit results had been submitted earlier to the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, which acknowledged during the breakfast that thanks to the walk audit reporting, a minimum of $6.5 million will be funneled to the Lehigh Valley between 2024 and 2029 to make improvements to roadways and trailheads.
“I cannot stress how important our partnership with the United Way of the Lehigh Valley, the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, and Age-Friendly Lehigh Valley is to the volunteers and staff of AARP Lehigh Valley,” said Kellie VonStein, AARP Pennsylvania Associate State Director of Outreach and Advocacy. “Together, we planned and prepared, and then walked dozens of miles to create a safer and more accessible Lehigh Valley for all.”
More than ever before, older adults are choosing to bike and walk instead of driving, making them a growing share of the nation’s pedestrians and cyclists.
To ensure that walking is a safe, accessible and convenient alternative for those who cannot or choose not to drive, many communities are arranging community walk audits using the AARP Walk Audit Toolkit.
AARP believes that walk audits can empower community residents and local leaders to become the driving force of change.
Walk audits educate residents about design elements that support safety, lead to reduced traffic congestion and pollution, healthier and active lifestyles, increased property values, and more livable communities.
To ensure that anyone who wants to contribute to the development of better pedestrian streets for people of all ages throughout the Lehigh Valley, a Tell Us About Your Street initiative was created by AARP Lehigh Valley. Interested in participating? Fill out our Tell Us About Your Street Form by clicking HERE.
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