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Messaging for Walking Advocacy Alliance for Biking & Walking Mutual Aid Call Wednesday, November 20,

2013
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.

Recap: Advice from Lisa Quinn Executive Director, Feet First


Separate walking and biking for maximum impact. Lumping biking and walking together hurts both modes. When we can focus 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% of people knew how much they briskly walk every day. Many people who bike would know exactly how long they spend biking, but not walking. The idea that every body walks can be harmful, because we can miss why people do and do not walk. Someone walking in an uninviting area may not feel they have a choice to not walk. Instead, we should focus on equal access to walking. We need to identify a neighborhoods needs and meet people where theyre at. Feet First identifies types of users and manages messaging around those types. Theres the environmentalist walking because its good for their health and for the environment, the parent walking their kids to school, the senior aging in place, the urban college student. Understand the distinction between choice walkers and need walkers. Make sure your messaging incorporates both.

Recap: Advice from Tony Dang Deputy Director, California Walks


Working to improve safety is a cornerstone of our work, but this has led to an overreliance on safety in messaging. Call it the extreme sport effect: focusing on safety can make walking seem dangerous. For SRTS programs, for example, we dont want to scare parents. Instead, we highlight simple, cheap solutions to safety problems. At the same time, safety data is one of the few data sources we have for walking. Six times more people are killed while walking compared to biking. This is not to diminish the importance of safety for biking, but to underscore the different magnitude. 22% of all traffic fatalities in California are walkers, while 4% are bikers. When talking to local elected leaders, we shift from safety concerns to more tangible asks. We plug the new NACTO urban streets design guide, which has an entire section dedicated to improving pedestrian safety. They have no excuse not to help us shepherd these solutions forward. 1

Messaging for Walking Advocacy Alliance for Biking & Walking Mutual Aid Call Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Put a human face on the issue. We work very hard to ensure that community members show up to speak to the data in their own way. In our video voice tool, we put a camera in a residents hand. They film the issue thats impacting them and demand the solution that they want to improve safety conditions. This captures what the community wants as a solution. Use data from the National Household Travel Survey. 10 11% of all California trips are made on foot. Fully 1/3 of trips under 1 mile are made by foot. Push your state to fund an add-on survey with questions about walking for 2015 states can choose to fund more surveys to collect more data. Take a cue from the bike advocacy community and make walking more visible with fun, encouraging events. Los Angeles Walks organized a series of walks all over LA for Walktober, each of which ended with a happy hour. To kick it off, members dressed up as superheroes to help people cross the street.

Recap: Advice from Brendan Kearney Development & Communications Manager, WalkBoston
Broaden your reach by building a coalition of advocacy groups and neighborhood residents. To tackle the recent Fix Cambridge Street Overpass campaign, WalkBoston teamed up with a core group of community organizations, including Main Streets of Allston, MassBike, Livable Streets Alliance, and Massachusetts for Transportation. To control messaging among a variety of voices, use Google Docs. For this campaign, one person created a draft template, and others plugged in their suggestions. This way, the document stayed up to date. For this campaign, advocates created a petition page with a Google Form. The page shared a letter from all of 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 theyre on the move. Advocates handed out fliers during commuting hours to reach people who walk as part of their commute. Illustrate your issue. The campaign had a Facebook page where advocates shared a poignant photo of a parent and child walking from the store over the unaccommodating bridge, with text overlay come make Cambridge Streets safer for walking. Dont just tell show. Advocates held a walking audit with public officials who were involved in the decision making process. This helped illustrate the need for better walking conditions.

Messaging for Walking Advocacy Alliance for Biking & Walking Mutual Aid Call Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Additional Resources
Messaging for Walkability - California Walks guide to messaging for walk advocacy. Making the Case for Healthy, Safe, & Walkable Communities California Walks definitions and talking points for better walking. Good Walking is Good Business - This WalkBoston brochure is a great resource for advocates hoping to focus on economic returns. California Walks on YouTube - Check out California Walks Video Voice videos. Fix Cambridge Street - The website for the initiative that Brendan discussed. Comments on the Cambridge Street Overpass - The coalition letter from the Fix Cambridge Street initiative.