Tag Archives: Walkability

MURP Students Participate in The Transit Alliance’s Citizens’ Academy

March 30, 2017

While MURP students have much to learn in the classroom about urban and regional planning, Denver itself also offers a vast network of resources, organizations and opportunities for students to engage in real-life planning scenarios.

The Transit Alliance, a local non-profit organization dedicated to empowering citizens to transform Colorado’s mobility future, provides such occasions through its Citizens’ Academy, which is a seven-week workshop that brings together Denver-based transit advocates. The academy serves to educate and motivate community stakeholders by encouraging their involvement to advance transit, active transportation and increased freedom of mobility.

Daniel Jennings, current MURP student, participated in the academy in Spring 2016. “I had just applied to the MURP program and was eager to get involved in the world of urban planning…participating in the academy allowed for me to be introduced to other planning advocates, and got me excited about the program,” Jennings said.

As part of The Transit Alliance, which focuses on policy and advocacy through its work, the Citizens’ Academy is an avenue for community members interested in Colorado’s transportation and mobility options to build leadership capacity, participate in forums of constructive dialogue about transit, and meet others who share similar and different viewpoints about where they see Colorado’s mobility future.

For Jennings, the Citizens’ Academy—which took place one night a week for seven-weeks—introduced him to different topics tied to transit, with the program often featuring speakers working in greater Denver’s transportation arena, including representatives from Denver Regional Council of Governments, Regional Transportation District and Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation. The academy also featured field trips to experience mobility options in Denver, including a trip to Denver International Airport to ride the University of Colorado A Line that recently opened to the public.

“Overall, the goal of the program was to connect you with other people that had similar interests related to transit, and to get participants thinking about how they could become transit advocates in their own community,” Jennings said. For instance, each participant created an action plan for their own community, which could range in ambition from simply taking your family for a ride on the light rail to investigating how to promote bus rapid transit in Denver.

Given his specific interest in increasing walkability within communities, Jennings’ project focused on improving walking conditions in Denver’s Lincoln Park-La Alma neighborhood. Through The Transit Alliance and work on his action plan, Jennings was also introduced to other transit and mobility-related organizations in Denver, such as WalkDenver and the Community Active Living Coalition.

“The Transit Alliance was a great introduction for me to the world I was about to enter with the MURP program,” Jennings said. “I was able to talk with and learn first-hand from planners, architects and other community members. Since a big part of graduate school is meeting people who are working in your desired profession, the Citizens’ Academy gave me a head start.”

Since beginning in 2007, The Transit Alliance’s Citizens’ Academy has graduated more than 800 community members interested in improving mobility throughout Colorado.

To learn more about The Transit Alliance, visit:  http://www.transitalliance.org/.

Urban Designer and Author Julie Campoli Speaks at CAP Lecture Series

October 18, 2016

As part of the Fall 2016 College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) lecture series, urban designer and author Julie Campoli spoke at a brown bag lunch event and an evening lecture—each which drew several dozen attendees—during her day-long visit to the college.

Campoli, who owns Burlington, Vermont-based practice, Terra Firma Urban Design, is author or co-author of three books addressing the urban form and its changing landscape, including her most recent title, Made for Walking: Density and Neighborhood Form, which explores sustainable transportation in the built environment through use of photographs, montages, maps and diagrams of North American neighborhoods. In addition to her writing and work as a consultant through her design firm—which specializes in town design, land use analysis and site planning for affordable housing—Campoli conducts lectures and workshops throughout the United States on walkability, density, housing, sustainable transportation and green infrastructure.

Campoli’s afternoon lecture, Solvitur Ambulando: It Is Solved by Walking, explored how changes in transportation speed over the past century—such as through the evolution of the carriage, train, and finally, the automobile—has altered the urban landscape and its form. As a result, Campoli argues for a resurgence in walking as a primary mode of transportation, so as to lead to more humane cities and a higher quality of life

During her talk, Campoli noted two significant challenges to our health and built environment—the fact that people are no longer moving, and that they are separated from one another. At best, Campoli labels walking in our cities’ built environments as inconvenient; at worst, it can be dangerous. As a result, Campoli discussed how urban designers and planners have the opportunity to promote increased physical and social connection by retrofitting places to be denser and more compact. By redefining a place’s physical boundaries, and placing less focus on the needs of the automobile as it relates to land use and transportation decisions, Campoli advocates for attending to the needs of people who travel on foot. By doing so, our cities have occasion to serve as catalysts for increased social encounters that lead to a greater sense of happiness.

Campoli’s evening lecture, There Will Be Cupcakes: Gentrification and Displacement in Walkable Places, looked at how placing restored value in many of our inner-city neighborhoods via place-making and public investments has led to improved physical form and connectivity, but has also ushered in higher property values and the threat of cultural and economic displacement. Campoli asked some difficult questions—including how a neighborhood can be transformed while remaining home to its original residents, and how cities can address the growing need for increased affordable housing—by using the revitalization of Columbus, Ohio as a case study.

While answers to these questions are not easy to come by, Campoli examined several strategies to promote “development without displacement,” including strengthening the existing community through advocacy and representation; actively protecting a city’s most vulnerable citizens; protecting and preserving affordable housing; and enacting an inclusive planning process, including inclusionary zoning practices that require a certain percentage of housing units be kept at affordable rates.

For more information on Julie Campoli and her work, visit http://www.juliecampoli.com/.

Photo credit: http://www.juliecampoli.com/

Planetizen Names WALKScope a Top 10 Website in 2015

January 20, 2016

Denver, CO – For the past two years, MURP students in Ken Schroeppel’s Planning Methods course have performed on-site audits of Denver’s pedestrian infrastructure using WALKscope, a mobile public engagement tool. In 2015, WALKscope made Planetizen’s Top 10 Websites list, representing the best planning, design, and development websites out there. Developed by WalkDenver and PlaceMatters to track sidewalk, intersection, and pedestrian data, WALKscope aggregates information in a color-coded map, allowing users to quickly and easily identify gaps in pedestrian infrastructure. In their summary, Planetizen highlights WALKscope as a “rare example of crowd-sourced public engagement that actually works…” noting that, “unlike many platforms with similar goals, WALKscope is well-trod” with thousands of sidewalk and intersection quality reports and pedestrian counts. The Planetizen article doesn’t mention it, but much of this data was collected and populated by MURP students! WALKscope has been an integral component of the Planning Methods class projects, allowing students to hone their data collection, analysis, and communication skills. In keeping with MURP’s emphasis on being an urban laboratory, this is just another example of classroom learning with real-world benefits.

For more information on how MURP students are using WALKscope, check out the article MURP Students Conduct Walkability Assessments for WalkDenver, which includes links to project examples from Fall 2014.

MURP’s Alex Schafran Led Transit-Oriented Hike During Denver Visit

September 25, 2015

Denver, CO – Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) is a hot topic in planning but what about Transit-Oriented Hiking? Playing off of the popular TOD concept, Adjoint Assistant Professor Alex Schafran led a transit-oriented hike for MURP students and faculty while he was in Denver in early September. The group met at Denver’s Union Station and took the West Line to the Federal Center station in Golden, Colorado. From there, the group walked to Apex Park for a casual hike.

“As a new resident of Denver, I was excited to get out and explore the great outdoors,” said first-year MURP student Zareen Tasneem. “Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that to reach these destinations, you needed a car, which I do not own. The transit-oriented hike was a relief because at least now I had an option. I would definitely partake in another TOH if given the opportunity.”

Fellow first-year student Lorin Crandall echoed that sentiment. “As someone who has chosen not to have a car for economic and environmental reasons, I am constantly on the lookout for good ways to get out to the great outdoors all around us in this region,” he said. “By being able to hop on the light rail or a bus and get out to great places to hike, bike and fish, I am able to surmount one of the biggest drawbacks of not having a personal vehicle. I think that we will see a big uptick in regional and statewide transportation alternatives, as more people get sick of traffic jams going to the mountains. And as more and more young people without cars move to the region, it will drive up competition for good alternatives to personal vehicles when it comes to getting from the urban areas to great outdoor recreation opportunities available in the mountains.”


MURP Student Lisa Diaz Receives Walking College Fellowship

May 12, 2015

Denver, CO – More good news about MURP students doing and being recognized for great work! MURP student Lisa Diaz just received a Walking College Fellowship sponsored by America Walks, a national nonprofit that advocates for walking and walkable communities.

As part of the Walking College, Lisa will complete an instructional program this summer and conduct an independent practicum project this fall. She also receives funding to attend the National Walking Summit 2015 in Washington, DC from October 28-30. “[America Walks] only awarded 25 scholarships nationally, so I’m honored and really excited!” says Lisa.

She mentioned that her interest in walkability evolved thanks to the Walkability Assessments conducted for WalkDenver (a local nonprofit that also advocates for more walkable cities) in Ken Schroeppel’s Planning Methods course during the Fall 2014 semester.

The Walking College Fellowship opportunity will complement Lisa’s work in Denver on the Mayor’s Pedestrian Advisory Committee (MPAC) and the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee (MBAC). Both committees were established in 2014. The MPAC is a two-year appointment with about 20 members who make recommendations to the Mayor’s office regarding pedestrian matters in Denver. Lisa is a voting member serving as the MPAC liaison to MBAC.

Lisa is also conducting research for WalkDenver about how other cities plan, build, fund, and maintain pedestrian walkways on the first and last mile to public transit.

Lisa passed along that both the MPAC and MBAC meet monthly and meetings are open to the public. Any students who would like to get involved are encouraged to attend.

Mayor’s Pedestrian Advisory Committee (MPAC)
Meets Second Wednesday of the month
7:30-9:00 AM
595 S Broadway, Denver, CO 80209

Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee (MBAC)
Meets First Thursday of the month
5:30 PM
Wellington Webb Building, 201 W. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO 80202

MURP Students Conduct Walkability Assessments for WalkDenver

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