MURP Students Conduct Walkability Assessments for WalkDenver

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Fall 2014

Denver, CO – Highlighting MURP’s commitment to applied learning, students in Ken Schroeppel’s Fall 2014 Planning Methods course collaborated with the region’s leading pedestrian advocacy organization, WalkDenver, to perform several Walkability Assessments in targeted transit-oriented study areas within Denver. WalkDenver, along with their partner, PlaceMatters, recently received a grant to perform Walkability Assessments along several current and future Regional Transportation District (RTD) transit lines. The Assessments will include the use of the new WALKscope data collection mobile tool that was jointly developed by WalkDenver and PlaceMatters. Ken worked with WalkDenver to develop a semester-long project that would allow students to apply the planning methods to a field-based project and simultaneously produce an actual product for a real client.

The project gave students the opportunity to assist a real‐world client with a planning project and to contribute to the improvement of Denver’s pedestrian environment, but it also directly aligned with the learning outcomes for Planning Methods and the course’s primary focus: data collection, data analysis, and data communication within a planning context.

The Walkabilty Assessments included analyzing the existing conditions (including demographic characteristics) of each study area, performing onsite audits of the pedestrian infrastructure in each area using the WALKscope tool, and interviewing transit users and pedestrians about their needs and challenges regarding the walkability of the area. Students analyzed this data in order identify “walkability gaps” and make recommendations regarding future pedestrian infrastructure improvements and policy changes.

The two sections of the Planning Methods course each looked at different parts of Denver, one section assessing the West Colfax Avenue Study Area and the other the other evaluating the River North Study Area in terms of their pedestrian environments and walkability. Teams of three to five students – most of whom were in their first semester of the MURP program – were responsible for evaluating subsets of the larger study areas. The teams produced a combined total of 14 Walkability Assessments.

Over the course of the semester students conducted windshield surveys of the study areas, prepared walkability audit execution and safety plans, conducted walkability audits, critiqued their methodology, prepared and implemented an intercept interview strategy plan, and compiled, analyzed, and presented data – visually, orally, and in writing. Each team prepared a final report and gave an overview presentation to representatives from WalkDenver and PlaceMatters at the end of the semester.

Dashboard presentations from each of the student groups are available via the links below.

Presentations – River North Study Area

Presentations – West Colfax Study Area