What you can do to improve walking in Queensland

You can help to make walking better in Queensland, whether it’s walking in an urban environment, walking in the bush or walking along the beach. Your involvement makes a difference:

  1. Walk: Go for a walk in your local street, neighbourhood or community. Take someone with you
  2. Observe: Think about what you like or don’t like about where you walk? What could be better? Use the Queensland Walks checklist
  3. Rate/Report. Tell your council or your local representative what you found
  4. Share: Share your ideas with your neighbours and local community
  5. Gather: Get a group together to make walking better. Spreading the work around makes it easier, more enjoyable, and more effective.

It’s fairly easy to spot problems and ask for those to be fixed. What is really useful is the ability to spot what improves the walking environment and makes the street and neighbourhood much more pleasant to walk in.

You may have experienced places where walking is a pleasure – what makes it that way? It could be the interesting things to look at, places to sit, lots of trees or plenty of shade. Maybe it was the ease of a footpath that connects to other places. Many neighbourhoods could benefit from changes to make them much better places to walk and spaces to stroll for everyone.

Here are a couple of ways you can identify how walkable your streets are as well as come up with improvements to walking in your local area.

1.    Stroll your block

Take a walk around your block, and complete the very simple Queensland Walks “My street audit: walking checklist” (in this toolkit and on the Queensland Walks website) to check the walkability of your local street or road. The checklist asks you to take a stroll and simply check what’s available on your street. You can use this as a starting point for what could be improved in your neighbourhood or community.

Walking audits are a great way for people to take a walk to assess streets and roads, point out problems and suggest improvements to local government.

It takes into account factors such as the quality of footpaths, ability to easily and safely cross roads, feelings of safety (during both the day and night), and how welcoming it feels.

You can do a walking audit yourself, but it can be helpful to do it with others to provide different perspectives. Older people might be more likely to notice trip hazards. Women may be more likely to notice areas that are unsafe. People with children or prams may be more likely to notice areas where children have problems and where prams aren’t easy to use.

2.    Stroll your neighbourhood

You can take a wider view and review your local neighbourhood for walkability using tools that are comprehensive and more technical in their style. Several organisations provide Walking Audit tools including the Heart Foundation and Victoria Walks

Your suggestions matter

Councils don’t have people assessing or patrolling streets looking for problems to solve. Most often the only way they know about a problem is if someone reports it. Some people aren’t aware that getting things fixed requires reporting problems. Some people don’t even notice problems; especially if they don’t walk much.

Decision makers, urban designers, traffic engineers, developers, planners, and architects don’t always have walking, rolling and strolling at the front of their mind when they’re preparing their plans. Buildings and other plans are important because they’re going to be there a long time.

You might be the only person who has an idea to improve the neighbourhood. If you stand up for walking before things happen, you can ensure a better walking environment for years to come.