Staff from our offices have participated in ‘Walk Audits’ in each of our communities. These walk audits allow a diverse group of community members to go on a walk together to identify highlights and barriers within our communities. This may be the first time someone from local government has walked with a person who uses a wheelchair or a white cane. The experience showcases why curb cuts are important and why placement of street signage matters. It opens up the conversation about walkability in our communities and can help propel change.
In Helena, a recent walk audit found a number of issues along Fee Street between Prospect and 11th Avenues. After the walk audit, city staff began working with local businesses and neighboring property owners to install 2,200 feet of sidewalk on Fee Street.
“One of the things we had heard a lot of complaints about is that people from Eagles Manor and in the vicinity could not get across the road here,” said Karen Lane, a member of the advisory council and recently retired prevention program manager for Lewis and Clark Public Health.
Previously, there had been areas without sidewalks on both sides of Fee Street. On the west side, adjacent to Albertsons, Lane said there were shrubs blocking the way, and a large street sign serving as an obstacle. Now, the shrubbery has been cut back, and a new sidewalk curves safely away from the road and around the sign.
Leaders say the new sidewalks will be a big help for people walking from the Eagles Manor retirement community to the grocery store or to the services at PureView Health Center or Lewis and Clark Public Health.