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Messaging for Walking Advocacy

Messaging for Walking Advocacy

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Published by Mary Lauran C Hall
Walking advocacy carries its own set of needs around communications and marketing. What works for messaging bike-friendliness may not work for messaging walkability. From touting vibrant main streets to elevating the health benefits of regular exercise, a unique set of messages can be best for effective walking advocacy. On this call, leading walking advocates discussed their hardest-learned lessons about effective messages to communicate the urgent need to boost walkability.
Walking advocacy carries its own set of needs around communications and marketing. What works for messaging bike-friendliness may not work for messaging walkability. From touting vibrant main streets to elevating the health benefits of regular exercise, a unique set of messages can be best for effective walking advocacy. On this call, leading walking advocates discussed their hardest-learned lessons about effective messages to communicate the urgent need to boost walkability.

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Published by: Mary Lauran C Hall on Dec 02, 2013
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01/26/2015

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Messaging for Walking Advocacy
Alliance for Biking & Walking Mutual Aid CallWednesday, November 20, 2013
1
Walking advocacy carries its own set o needs around communications and marketing. What works or mes-saging bike-riendliness may not work or messaging walkability. From touting vibrant main streets to elevat-ing the health benefits o regular exercise, a unique set o messages can be best or effective walking advocacy. On this call, leading walking advocates discussed their hardest-learned lessons about effective messages to communicate the urgent need to boost walkability.
Recap: Advice from Lisa Quinn Executive Director, Feet First
Separate walking and biking or maximum impact. Lumping biking and walking togeth-er hurts both modes. When we can ocus on the different modes, we come out ahead.
Walking has its own nuances and needs. A recent survey asked how much time you spend casually walking and how much time you spend briskly walking. In the US, only 35% o people knew how much they briskly walk every day. Many people who bike would know exactly how long they spend biking, but not walking.
Te idea that “every body walks” can be harmul, because we can miss why people do and do not walk. Someone walking in an uninviting area may not eel they have a choice to
not 
 walk. Instead, we should ocus on equal access to walking. We need to identiy a neighborhood’s needs and meet people where they’re at.
Feet First identifies types o users and manages messaging around those types. Tere’s the environmentalist walking because it’s good or their health and or the environment, the parent walking their kids to school, the senior aging in place, the urban college stu-dent.
Understand the distinction between “choice” walkers and “need” walkers. Make sure your messaging incorporates both.
Working to improve saety is a cornerstone o our work, but this has led to an overreli-ance on saety in messaging. Call it the “extreme sport” effect: ocusing on saety can make walking seem dangerous. For SRS programs, or example, we don’t want to scare parents. Instead, we highlight simple, cheap solutions to saety problems.
At the same time, saety data is one o the ew data sources we have or walking. Six times more people are killed while walking compared to biking. Tis is not to diminish the importance o saety or biking, but to underscore the different magnitude. 22% o all traffic atalities in Caliornia are walkers, while 4% are bikers.
When talking to local elected leaders, we shif rom saety concerns to more tangible asks. We plug the new NACO urban streets design guide, which has an entire section dedicated to improving pedestrian saety. Tey have no excuse not to help us shepherd these solutions orward.
Recap: Advice from Tony Dang Deputy Director, California Walks
 
Messaging for Walking Advocacy
Alliance for Biking & Walking Mutual Aid CallWednesday, November 20, 2013
2
Broaden your reach by building a coalition o advocacy groups and neighborhood residents. o tackle the recent Fix Cambridge Street Overpass campaign, WalkBoston teamed up with a core group o community organizations, including Main Streets o Allston, MassBike, Livable Streets Alliance, and Massachusetts or ransportation.
o control messaging among a variety o voices, use Google Docs. For this campaign, one person created a draf template, and others plugged in their suggestions. Tis way, the document stayed up to date.
For this campaign, advocates created a petition page with a Google Form. Te page shared a letter rom all o the groups and collected supporters’ email addresses. Because it was hosted on Google Docs, the contacts were not owned by any one organization.
Reach people when they’re on the move. Advocates handed out fliers during commuting hours to reach people who walk as part o their commute.
Illustrate your issue. Te campaign had a Facebook page where advocates shared a poignant photo o a parent and child walking rom the store over the unaccommodating bridge, with text overlay “come make Cambridge Streets saer or walking.”
Don’t just tell — show. Advocates held a walking audit with public officials who were in- volved in the decision making process. Tis helped illustrate the need or better walking conditions.
Recap: Advice from Brendan Kearney Development & Communications Manager, WalkBoston
Put a human ace on the issue. We work very hard to ensure that community mem-bers show up to speak to the data in their own way. In our “video voice” tool, we put a camera in a resident’s hand. Tey film the issue that’s impacting them and demand the solution that they want to improve saety conditions. Tis captures what the community wants as a solution.
Use data rom the National Household ravel Survey. 10 – 11% o all Caliornia trips are made on oot. Fully 1/3 o trips under 1 mile are made by oot. Push your state to und an add-on survey with questions about walking or 2015 — states can choose to und more surveys to collect more data.
ake a cue rom the bike advocacy community and make walking more visible with un, encouraging events. Los Angeles Walks organized a series o walks all over LA or Walktober, each o which ended with a happy hour. o kick it off, members dressed up as superheroes to help people cross the street.

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