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Frequently Asked Questions


You may have some questions about the WABSA Project as you consider it's potential for your own community. Here are questions that people frequently ask.

1) I don't work in the transportation, traffic, or planning professions. Can I coordinate a project like this?

Yes. The WABSA Project guidebook will provide you with enough information to get you started in recruiting volunteers and organizing any necessary training for your team. The project has been designed to be coordinated by health educators and citizen volunteers, as well as trained planners.

2) Could the assessment tools be used during a promotional project (e.g., Walk to School Week) to help "open people's eyes"?

Yes. They will collect detailed information about the walking route. We are currently working on a research project that may produce more suitable data collection tools for Walk to School projects. If you would find it more useful to use tools that are more educational and general in nature, see the Walkability Checklist and Bikeability Checklist promoted by the Pedestrian and Bicycling Information Center. These two tools are good "eye-openers" and once people see the design problems in their local environment, recruit them to help you collect more systematic data and begin advocating for improvements by using the WABSA Project methods.

3) Who should conduct the training workshop and the public talk?

We suggest finding someone who is either locally, regionally, or nationally respected as an expert on these issues who could help you understand the assessment methods in detail and answer your questions. Preferably, the person could also lead trainings outside on your local streets so that you begin to "see" the data you are collecting. We suggest finding someone who is personable, not known locally as an "extremist," and someone who has good public presence. If your state has a Cardiovascular Health Program at the state health department, contact them to see who they might recommend.

4) How many volunteers are needed?

Margaret Meade commented that a small number of people can make significant changes in the world. Therefore, there is no magic number of volunteers. The more you can recruit, the better because you will rapidly compile the assessment data. However, even 2 or 3 committed individuals can collect a lot of assessment data over several Saturdays. You might want to think about the types of volunteers to recruit (see the WABSA Project guidebook for more detailed information): people to assess sidewalk and road conditions; people to map the data using computers or paper maps with color-highlighters; and people to form an advocacy team to go to meetings and public hearings and present your findings.

5) How long does it take to implement each step?

In general, this depends on how much time everyone is devoting to the project. Recruiting 5-25 volunteers to attend a training can take a few weeks. The training itself is one day. If the volunteers begin assessing within a few days of the training, it will be fresh on their minds and you can then hold any follow-up meetings to help answer their assessment questions. A 2-mile diameter project area could have 25-50 obvious walking/bicycling corridors to be assessed depending on how densely populated it is. You might estimate each road segment taking 30 minutes to assess if it is less than 1/2 mile long. 3 teams (of 2 people each) could conceivably finish the job in 2 or 3 Saturdays (assessing for about 5 hours each time). Coloring paper maps is very quick and could be completed by 2 people in one hour. GIS mapping is a little more complicated and will probably require the services of your local planning department. Finally, advocacy planning will take a few meetings and 3-4 weeks of part-time work to meet with local planning staff to review your findings, to prepare your list of recommended improvements, and to prepare what the advocacy team will say at any public meetings or before the media.

6) How long does it take to assess one sidewalk or road segment?

Once you are familiar with the assessment tools, you may be able to assess a 1/4 mile segment in as little as 15-20 minutes (both walking and bicycling forms).

7) The assessment forms need Average Annual Daily Traffic (AADT) - Where do we get that information?

This is probably the most difficult part of the WABSA Project. Your local transportation department or planning department will be one source for AADT. Generally, AADT is only collected on busier streets because the planners/engineers are concerned with helping the traffic flow smoothly along that street. Give them a call and see if they have "traffic count" data for your project area roads. It might be on their website. It might be on your state Department of Transportation website. It might be available in paper maps or in notebooks. You'll need to have a list of your roads with their start and stop cross-roads.

If AADT is not available to you for some of your roads, try to set up a one-hour meeting with a traffic engineer or planner who wants to help your project. See if they can help you determine "approximate AADT" for your roads by studying the AADT of similar roads nearby (this process is also called "imputing" the data). Be sure you make note of which AADT came from real data and which were imputed by the engineers/planners.

(c) 2006-07 WABSA Project