Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Your Very Own Crosswalk: Followers of your Footsteps

Step 7: Who else can help me?
As I mentioned yesterday, elected officials respond well to angry mobs (well fine, I didn't exactly say it that way), as do the other folks you need to help you with your crosswalk quest, like planners and engineers. In other words, now is the time to seek out other members of your community who are just as excited about getting a crosswalk installed as you are. You could really start this step at any time, but I've put it here because by this point in the process you should have a pretty good idea of what you need to do to make your crosswalk a reality, and you can share those specific needs with your new supporters.

And who are these supporters? Well, you have a lot of possibilities. Sadly, the impetus to install a crosswalk is often a serious crash, so you may already have the injured person (or their friends and family) rallying behind you. But where else can you look for people to champion your cause? Here are some ideas:
  • Your local pedestrian advocacy group - For a list of groups in the US and elsewhere, check out the Pedestrian Advocacy Groups page
  • Your city's pedestrian coordinator - Not every jurisdiction has one of these, but more and more are devoting a full-time staff person to pedestrian and bike issues
  • Regional governments or Metropolitan Planning Organizations - Even if your city doesn't have a ped/bike coordinator, your regional government may have someone devoted to non-motorized transportation policy
  • Neighborhood planning committees - Many communities, especially in larger jurisdictions, have town councils, community planning groups, or similar organizations who deal with neighborhood-level planning issues. Your elected official or city staff person can help direct you to these groups, if they exist
  • Chambers of commerce and business improvement districts - Explain to these groups how walkability promotes economic development in the community
  • Your local Safe Routes to School coordinator - The Safe Routes to School National Partnership can point you towards a coordinator in your region
  • Your neighborhood school or PTA - Staff and parents are often eager to support pedestrian-improvement projects, particularly when they're along designated school walking routes
  • The health advocacy community - You know that walking is good for your health--and so do people who work in the health policy field. For example, here in California you can find groups of promotoras within the Latino community, community leaders who work as lay health advisors to promote walking and pedestrian improvements (among many other issues) 
  • Non-profit organizations - Your city may have an organization dedicated to promoting complete streets, alternative transportation modes, or "green" living. They've probably logged a lot of advocacy hours themselves, and may be able to provide you with contacts or advice that can help your cause
  • Your neighbors - This group should really be first on the list, as you're unlikely to get far if everyone else who lives in your neighborhood hates the idea of a new crosswalk. Spend a little time chatting with the boy or girl next door--even if you can't gain their support, you'll hopefully prevent local backlash
I'm sure there are others that could be added to this list, but at this time of night my brain has about run its course. Feel free to add your own ideas in the comments section.

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