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Making Rural America Walkable

Full resource: Rural Walking in Massachusetts: A Toolkit for Municipalities
Date published: 2013
Source: WalkBoston
Authors: Robert Sloane and Wendy Landman

Outside of urbanized town centers, many parts of Massachusetts suffer from poor infrastructure for walking, with few sidewalks, a dangerous lack of crosswalks and unattractive streetscaping. Yet, as walking is increasingly recognized as an essential part of healthy living, many residents of rural and low-density suburban areas are seeking opportunities to improve the walking environments in their communities.

This extensive report outlines the range of design choices which can be made to improve walkability in rural areas, complete with suggestions for their successful implementation. It presents 13 case studies which illustrate how communities have built creative and cost-effective walking facilities. These case studies have also been analyzed to better understand how walking infrastructure can fit with town priorities in a range of contexts. The findings of this analysis are comprehensively explained, covering issues such as the needs,  benefits and challenges of building walking infrastructure, walkway design, traffic calming, collaborative processes and public education.

This report is the outcome of a commission by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, who invited WalkBoston  to produce tools which can help rural low-density suburban communities initiate policies and projects to increase opportunities for walking. These tools have been assembled based on work already underway in rural and semi-rural towns in Massachusetts.

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