With a low WalkScore (43), a high percentage of carless households (>40 percent), and the majority of households (55 percent) living at or below the federal poverty threshold, the residents of Cincinnati's South Cumminsville neighborhood in were in need of reliable, safe and economical transportation.
Working in Neighborhoods (WIN), a non-profit community development corporation, had been communicating these needs to the City and the Ohio Department of Transportation, but found that it lacked the technical expertise to effectively advocate for the needed infrastructure improvements.
WIN, in collaboration in collaboration with Project for Public Spaces and Livability Solutions' designated technical assistance provider (Walkable and Livable Communities Institute), designed a program of technical assistance that would accomplish the following objectives:
The Walkable and Livable Communities Institute (WALC) led a one-day Walkability Workshop in South Cumminsville meant to empower and educate residents on how to evaluate streets for walkability, build consensus for walkability improvements and achieve short- and long-term changes within their neighborhood.
A group of 60 participants -- advocates, City staff, City Council members, non-profit organizations, and residents of all ages and abilities -- walked neighborhood streets and discussed common concerns related to the design, operation, accessibility and safety of streets and the community. The workshop and a subsequent technical memo from WALC identified specific steps to improving walkability in South Cumminsville, including necessary changes to the design, operation and features of the neighborhood streets.
Numerous improvements were realized following the workshop: sidewalks were repaired, curb ramps were made ADA accessible, missing streets signs were replaced and weeds and trees were trimmed to beatify the neighborhood and remove obstacles to walking.
The City's Department of Transportation became invested in South Cumminsville's walkability efforts, regularly attending meetings of the newly formed Street Action Team, which is composed of community members and local stakeholders. The City evaluated pedestrian safety at several intersections and has agreed to traffic calm a street by narrowing travel lanes.
WIN has adopted walking audits and conducted them at locations throughout the neighborhood. Following the workshop WIN was granted an AmeriCorps VISTA position. The VISTA member was instrumental in leading and achieving WIN's community engagement and outreach goals leading-up to and following the workshop.
As a result of the workshop local stakeholders formed a Street Action Team to advocate for active transportation improvements. Today the group is called the Community Action Team which is a reflection of a broader range of issues it now addresses. The Team is involved in neighborhood beautification projects (reporting nuisance properties and painting homes); job creation (developing a neighborhood grocery store and a community biking program); food security (community gardens and healthy corner stores); and it has continued to be a strong advocate for traffic safety, completing more walking audits in summer 2016. The Team meets monthly and has developed relationships with Ohio DOT and the local planning and public works departments.