Local Elected Officials and Boards

Elected leaders and members of community boards make many decisions that influence the walking environment. Groups vary by community, but often include:

  • Governing body such as a City Council, County Commission, or Board of Supervisors
  • School Board Trustees
  • Boards and committees appointed by the governing entity (usually listed on the web site)

Developing a relationship with elected leaders and community board members will help ensure they understand the issues and have the information needed to make informed decisions. Tips to ensure your efforts are effective:

  • Make contact in person or via phone, even if you also sent a letter or email.
  • Be brief, rational, reasonable and to the point.
  • Show how your concern is important to others in the community, too.
  • Ask for specific actions — what do you want?
  • Consider scheduling a brief walking tour to illustrate your points. Try to schedule your walk during a time when the problems are evident.
  • Listen carefully to their concerns and issues.
  • Follow up. Be persistent.

You can also request time on the next meeting agenda for board and agencies. Do this by calling a member or the Chairperson, or by asking for the agenda item during a meeting of the group. Prepare a brief presentation (no more than ten minutes [even shorter is better]) that includes projected images or displays that demonstrate your points. For example, if you are explaining to the School Board that the pick up and drop off area is chaotic, provide photos that support your assertion. Prepare a handout to supplement the presentation and submit it to staff well in advance of the meeting for inclusion in the background packet supplied to officials and board members. This allows them to review materials in advance of the meeting and consider questions they would like you to answer.

Points to make about the benefits of walking include:

  • A downtown or neighborhood center with attractive places to walk and shop contributes to the local economy and attracts or keeps businesses in the community.
  • Children, senior citizens and people with disabilities can get around on their own in a walkable community.
  • Walking supports transit use.
  • The number of people walking in your community is an indicator of the quality of life.
  • A walkable community has a sense of place. People are more likely to know and care about each other.
  • As new development and redevelopment improve walking conditions, many short car trips will be replaced by walking trips.
  • A shift to more walking reduces air pollution, traffic congestion, and parking demands.

See the Promote Walking and Health section for more information.