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Implementation:  Getting Started

"Getting started" can be daunting — the needs are overwhelming, resources are scarce, and staff time is limited. Every community is faced with the questions of "Where do I start?" and "How do I get going?" While it is not the intent of this guide to provide an exhaustive discussion of implementation strategies, some direction is useful.

Priorities: Since all pedestrian needs will not be able to be addressed immediately, project priorities need to be established. To create priorities requires several program objectives:

    Safety — One objective should be to reduce the number and severity of crashes involving pedestrians. To accomplish this will require: (1) a good understanding of the types of crashes that are occurring in your community, and (2) application of appropriate countermeasures to address these crashes. The information provided in this guide is intended to help select the countermeasures that will be most effective in addressing selected types of crash problems.

    Access — A second objective should be to create an accessible community where all pedestrians, including those with disabilities, can reach their desired destinations. Typically, this begins with being able to walk safely along streets (i.e., sidewalks) and across streets at intersections and other appropriate locations.

    Aesthetics — It is not enough to simply have a safe, accessible community — it should also be an aesthetically pleasing place to live and work. Landscaping, lighting, and other pedestrian amenities help create a "livable community" and should be considered when making pedestrian improvements.

One Step at a Time: To create a safe, walkable community, take one step at a time. Sidewalks, curb bulbs, and other pedestrian improvements are installed intersection by intersection, block by block. Individually, they do not create a safe, livable community. Collectively, they create the infrastructure needed for a great place to work, play, and do business. In other words, the whole pedestrian system is greater than the sum of its parts.

Community Concerns: Be very sensitive to community concerns. Public participation will build community pride and ownership that is essential to long-term success. Some of the problems identified in this guide will not be an issue in your community and some of the tools may be perceived as too expensive (at least initially). There probably will be measures that your community puts on hold for a few years until a community consensus is reached. Conversely, there probably will be measures that your community would like to pursue that are not even mentioned in this planning guide.

Deliverables: It is very important to produce immediate deliverables that people can see. For example, a new section of sidewalk or a freshly painted crosswalk is visible, while a transportation plan is a paper document that may never be seen or appreciated by the public. To keep its momentum, a program needs some “quick wins.” They create the sense that something is happening and that government is responsive.