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Boots on the Ground: Utilizing Walk Audits to Identify Mobility Barriers in our Communities 

Updated: Jun 6, 2023

Our cities are growing rapidly as populations boom and people shift to urban centers. In Utah, our communities are young, mobile, and looking for better walking and transportation choices. Many new infrastructure projects are being planned, designed, and constructed to better meet mobility needs and future transportation demands.

These new infrastructure projects are aimed at improving travel experiences and can be an exciting addition to our cities by providing better mobility and new connections. Replacing aging infrastructure and adding new roadways is an opportunity to reassess how we allocate space for travelers. Since the widespread popularity of the automobile in the 1950s, roadways have historically been built exclusively for drivers, with pedestrian and bicycle facilities added as an afterthought or not at all. Here at Horrocks, we’re aiming to shift that paradigm and create complete streets that are safe and comfortable for all users.

One way we commit to designing better cities and streets is by putting ourselves in our end-users' shoes and focusing on the human experience. At Horrocks, we have helped project managers and stakeholders do this by completing a Walk Audit in an area that is slated for redesign or a new facility. By walking through our communities and neighborhoods, our design teams can experience firsthand the obstacles in our designs that affect accessibility, safety, and convenience for users of all ages and abilities. 

What is a Walk Audit?

Walk audits are a hands-on approach to planning and project design that utilizes boots-on-the-ground exploration to identify barriers for nonmotorized users. This is a community-driven process used to inform the project’s purpose to produce designs that are more responsive to the needs of the community. Walk audits are opportunities to learn about the built environment from the experts – the people that live and travel there every day. It is important to have a group of participants that mirrors the community profile of the project area to ensure we are hearing a representative voice about the diversity of transportation needs and avoid being ‘tourists.” Through walk audits, project owners and teams have the opportunity to assess the areas they are responsible for improving and develop informed and meaningful improvements that enhance mobility and safety in our communities. For example, only through walking can we understand how stressful or uncomfortable an environment may be – from loud trucks and speeding vehicles to a lack of contiguous sidewalks or sub-standard ramps that do not meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. We imagine taking a child in a stroller, or utilizing a wheelchair and understand that past practices are not sufficient to meet the needs to provide a truly usable multimodal transportation network.

When and Where are Walk Audits Applicable? 

Walk audits can be utilized in various infrastructure projects, including environmental studies, corridor studies, planning studies, Complete Street Policy development, design-builds, and more. The best time to conduct a walk audit is identifying the needs of a project to better inform the goals and potential solutions in the project process.  

Who Should Participate in a Walk Audit?  

Walk audits should include a wide range of participants, including project leadership and staff, organizations that represent diverse communities, everyday users in the community, and others who are responsible for plans and projects in the area. It is important to include participants with a wide variety of mobility needs to ensure that all impacts are understood and addressed in future designs.

Walk Audits Hosted by Horrocks  

Click on the collapsible items below to learn more about the walk audits our teams at Horrocks have completed. 

I-15 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS); Salt Lake City to Farmington Study

Horrocks deployed this strategy along the I-15 corridor between Farmington and Salt Lake City, Utah, for the Utah Department of Transportation's (UDOT) environmental study. Our teams hosted five walk audits along the 17-mile corridor, involving key stakeholders with knowledge of and interest in each community. We provided a real-world experience for participants on what would and would not work in this area and included post-walk audit workshops to brainstorm design ideas. Walk audits and community input were used to inform high-comfort walking and biking alternatives to help reduce barriers to east-west travel across I-15 and improve connections to fixed transit stations.

Learn more about this project by visiting the UDOT project page.  

Figure 1: Walk audit participants discussing how to improve visibility between trail users and vehicles entering the freeway at high speeds. Participants noticed that no controlled stops currently exist, creating conflicts between modes.

Bangerter Highway Environmental Study

Pleasant Grove Boulevard Interchange Environmental Assessment

Mountain View Corridor Extension Design-Build Project

Let Our Teams Support Your Project  

Walk audits help inform owners and project teams about the needs surrounding a project’s goals while also screening alternatives for designs. This boots-on-the-ground approach provides an opportunity to integrate walking and biking facilities from the project’s beginning stages, thus planning for future compatibility and ensuring that adequate funding is programmed and allocated.  

Turn to our team at Horrocks to learn more about our capabilities in planning, design, and more to build a better understanding of your project needs.

Contact information: Alexis Verson, AICP, or Mehrnaz Fereydouni

Meet Horrocks' Planning Team   

Alexis Verson, AICP

Senior Transportation Planner and Planning Practice Lead

Alexis is a Senior Transportation Planner with 10years of experience in both the public and private sectors. Alexis is skilled in multimodal planning at all scales including intersections, corridors, neighborhood, and region. She has experience creating safe and accessible pedestrian and bicycle networks for communities across the Mountain West, assessing and improving first/last mile connections to transit and trails, facilitating systemwide bus stop improvements and park-and-ride facilities, managing expansion of bike share programs, and facilitating concept design at the corridor level. Alexis has managed complex planning and capital projects and understands the value of placemaking, community input, and consensus-building.

Matt Seipold

Multimodal Transportation Planner

Matt is a Transportation Planner with five years of combined private and public experience. Much of that time has been spent working on active transportation plans, programming, and outreach. He has worked on several local multijurisdictional active transportation plans, including the South Jordan/West Jordan Active Transportation Plan and the Mid-Valley Active Transportation Plan, which included the six cities of Cottonwood Heights, Holladay, Midvale, Millcreek, Murray, and Taylorsville.

Mehrnaz Fereydouni

Transportation Planner 

Mehrnaz is a planner with more than three years of experience in active transportation planning, corridor studies, multimodal network analysis, and urban design. She is excited about transforming transportation networks and creating healthy and resilient communities. She is experienced in analyzing transportation data and conducting demographic analyses to help in making informed decisions. She has been involved in several projects including I-15 Davis County, 600 North to Farmington; UDOT Active Transportation Plan Outreach; Mountainland Association of Governments (MAG) Alpine/Highland Active Transportation Plan; and more.


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