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‘Safety walk’ to identify pedestrian needs in downtown Danville

HEART OF DANVILLE
News release
The benefits of walking are not new; in fact it’s common knowledge that health improves with physical activity. However, in a country where suburban sprawl vastly outnumbers pedestrian oriented neighborhoods, it can be a challenge to remain active.
This is the importance of a vibrant, walkable downtown; on May 20, the Heart of Danville invites the community to come participate in a downtown safety walk.
Safety walks, better known as walkability audits, are unbiased examinations/evaluations of the walking environment. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the purpose of the audit is to identify concerns for pedestrians related to safety, access, comfort and convenience of the environment.
“We hear all the times that the sidewalks downtown need to be fixed, but that is a general statement,” said Nick Wade, director of the Heart of the Danville. “We need to identify the problem areas, and a walkability audit will provide those answers.”
Once the audit is complete, the Heart of Danville will compile the results and create a report identifying the problematic areas.
“Walkability is not a trend,” Wade said. “And it is not just for young people.”
According to the National Association of Realtors‘ 2017 Community and Transportation Preference Survey, walkability, good public transit and short commutes are becoming more important to buyers across various generations. Of those born before 1944, 55 percent liked the idea of being in a walkable community, while 62 percent of millennials (born in 1981 or after) felt the same way.
“Our hope is that this project will be the start of a walkability movement for downtown Danville,” Wade said. “Increasing walkability not only increases property value, it also aids in new business development and recruitment, and improves the quality of life for our community.”
What residents need to know:
• It takes about one hour to complete the audit.
• Participants will meet in front of the Boyle County Courthouse at 2 p.m. on May 20.
•The more participants there are, the more areas will get covered.
•It is important to have a diverse mix of people participate.