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Walk By Vision - p1
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  • 1. Bringing New Participantsinto the Planning ProcessResearch sponsored by the Federal Transit AdministrationOffice of Research, Demonstration and InnovationU.S. Department of Transportation
  • 2. Making communities more walkable in cities and towns acrossMassachusetts since 1990
  • 3. Research focusDevelop and test techniques to broaden transit users’ participation in planning by•  Identifying transit users who are not ordinarily involved in formal planning processes•  Eliciting their opinions on public agency plans
  • 4. How do we know people are missing fromthe planning process?•  We looked at a sample area with a number of projects – mostly recent or still underway
  • 5. Transportation planning projects in Boston
  • 6. Jamaica Plain as a study area•  38,000 residents•  38% use public transit; access mode - walking•  11% walked to work•  During 6 recent planning efforts only 15 – 20 regular appointed or volunteer participants•  Demographic, economic and cultural mix of the neighborhood was not represented
  • 7. Comparing projects in and around Jamaica Plain
  • 8. Public participation can unintentionallyexclude many community members. Why?•  Meetings are too frequent & too demanding of continuous participation•  Information can be too technical and too difficult to follow for occasional participants•  Meetings may be difficult to attend for affected transit users (evenings, requiring long transit trips)•  Meetings may be uncomfortable for non-English speakers
  • 9. Who do we want to reach to understandhow to improve transit?•  Current, frequent users of a service•  Mix of income groups•  Mix of ages and cultures•  Riders wanting better access•  Businesses profiting from transit service
  • 10. When in a planning process can participationmake a difference? And when are peoplelikely to participate? •  When a planning process is underway for imminent changes •  When an issue is well publicized •  When there is heightened public interest in planning due to differences of opinion
  • 11. JP Studies underway: MBTA Route 39•  Consolidation of bus stops•  New bus shelter program•  Curb extensions•  Improved speeds on whole route
  • 12. JP studies underway: Centre/South Streets•  Bus stop improvements•  Reconfiguration of 2 local business areas•  New street furniture•  New crosswalks
  • 13. How we looked for new participants•  Targeted transit users where they are•  Looked for people willing to listen a few moments•  Deliberately included non-English speakers•  Deliberately drew out those less sophisticated about the public participation process•  Went to people on their way to work
  • 14. What we testedA. Presentations at local community meetingsB. Walking auditsC. Short on-street, in-person surveysD. Door-to-door merchant interviewsE. Walk-By Visioning – an interactive process
  • 15. A. Presentations at local communitymeetings•  Professional or business organizations•  Neighborhood meetings•  Outdoor community events
  • 16. Conclusions from presentations•  Community meetings attract the “regulars”•  Neighborhood meetings do not represent all residents•  Business organization meetings do not attract all merchants•  Little interest in discussing process issues•  Participants tend to focus on service issues
  • 17. B. Walking Audits•  Professional and business organizations•  Neighborhood groups•  Attendees at community events
  • 18. Conclusions from walking audits•  On-street audits require active participation of community groups – very difficult to obtain•  Consolidation of bus stops and the condition of walking routes not sufficiently compelling to generate interest•  Adding basic audit questions in interviews with local merchants was very useful
  • 19. C. Short on-street, in person interviews•  Tested use of standard paper interview forms•  Tested use of an iPad for novelty•  Very short interviews – “the bus is coming!
  • 20. iPad Survey•  Location•  Gender•  Age•  Race•  Language•  Whether or not they ride Route 39•  Level of knowledge about the study•  If they own a car•  What other transit routes they use
  • 21. Conclusions from short interviews•  Lack of interest – people may not see interviews as useful ways to register opinions•  Some people are threatened by forms•  Non-English speakers were most wary - very few participated•  Bus riders are in a hurry, distracted•  iPads were of no interest•  Bus stops have promise to reach new participants
  • 22. D. Door-to-door business interviews•  100% sample in Centre/South corridor•  Informal, unscheduled, drop-in interviews•  Spoke with any representative of the business, not necessarily the owner•  Minimal questions: are you aware…?•  Open-ended conversation•  Illustrations from city’s planning process
  • 23. Board used in business interviews
  • 24. Conclusions from business interviews•  Positive response•  Inclusiveness appreciated•  Business hours respected•  Many suggestions for improved crosswalks; few for improved street furniture and landscaping•  Some get info from informal network•  Great opportunity to tell people what’s going on
  • 25. Lessons in business interview techniques•  Targeted effort can reach merchants and business people•  Reached a mix of managers, owners, staff•  Merchants cannot leave businesses for meetings – so going to them is essential to involve them•  Interviews that take place at stores/businesses get great responses•  Many fewer scheduling issues because these were drop-in interviews•  Low cost: 2 two-person teams = 20 interviews/afternoon
  • 26. Geographyof interactions
  • 27. Interactionsby Time of Day
  • 28. E. Walk-by-visioning – hands-on interaction•  Interactivity is novel, generates interest•  Low cost, low tech•  Simple to administer•  Easily replicable in other settings•  People can be randomly selected if desired•  Lively displays attract more people•  Non-threatening, easy to vote•  Anonymous, no record of participants’ names
  • 29. Questions used in Walk-By Visioning•  Your personal preferences for types of improvements•  Your thoughts about city improvement proposals•  Your vote for preferences
  • 30. Walk-By Visioning elements
  • 31. Walk-By Visioning elements
  • 32. Walk-By Visioning elements
  • 33. Walk-By Visioning elements
  • 34. Walk-By Visioning elements
  • 35. Walk-By Visioning elements
  • 36. Walk-By Visioning: Elements on the boards
  • 37. Walk-By Visioning in action
  • 38. Walk-By Visioning: Votes on elements
  • 39. Walk-by Visioning: Sample results
  • 40. Walk-by Visioning: Sample results
  • 41. Conclusions from Walk-By Visioning exercises•  Brings in new participants•  Low-key politically•  Low costs (primarily staff ), easy set-up•  Many willing participants•  No commitment, no threats•  Participation can be kept anonymous
  • 42. Evaluation of using the techniquesNeighborhood meetings•  Relatively few individual participants reachedWalking audits•  Few willing to devote time to field workBus stop interactions•  Informal surveys require little time from intervieweesMerchant interviews •  Reached all local merchants brings in new voicesWalk-By Visioning  •  Reached many new people reached, bridged language gaps
  • 43. Key lessons learned•  Informal interviews and walk-bys are less exact and costly than surveys, but reach more people and include more diversity•  Informal techniques and walk-bys may be more enjoyable for people than formal surveys and were enthusiastically received•  Multi-lingual materials should be created to reach non- English speakers
  • 44. Key lessons learned, continued•  Informal interviews and walk-by visioning can be carried out with minimal staff time•  Informal interviews can be taken anytime to supplement a planning study – before, during or after a study, and prior to final decisions•  Techniques can evolve from fieldwork. The Walk-By Visioning exercise emerged to address some of the limitations of the bus-stop interviews
  • 45. Key lessons learned, continued•  Informal interviews are non-threatening and anonymous•  Not much time required of participants - no more than 15 min•  No special equipment, technology or training is necessary•  Less expensive than formal meetings•  Preference/priorities obtained with photos, maps, brief discussions•  Limited number of questions is essential for clarity
  • 46. For further information:Wendy Landman, Executive Directorwlandman@walkboston.orgwww.walkboston.org617-367-9255