EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Central Illinois leaders, city planners, engineers and community members gathered in East Peoria on Wednesday to learn how to make their communities more pedestrian-friendly.
More than 70 people took a ‘walk audit’, a three-mile tour from the East Peoria bell tower, through a neighborhood and finishing at the Levee District. The purpose was to illustrate the needs to make a community more walkable, bikeable and access to public transit.
“The whole point of what we’re learning today is how can we be more active in our neighborhood and communities. And we can’t be if there isn’t a safe place to walk or bike,” said Kathie Brown, director of rural outreach and development at the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council.
The walk audit was led by public health and transportation consultant Mark Fenton.
Fenton said city planners should think of all modes of transportation and continuous sidewalks for accessibility to all.
“Anytime you’re doing work on the road, you should be thinking about how do we make it work for everybody – pedestrians, bicyclists and transit rides, not just cars,” he said.
Brown said a big push for the region is paying attention to livability in communities.
“This active lifestyle is really one of those core elements that many people are looking for today. They want to be active either by biking and walking,” she said.
City engineer Colin Coad consults the City of Peoria for Complete Streets, an effort to design streets safe for pedestrians, bicyclists, and cars. He said the walk audit gave him a renewed sense of commitment to road design.
“There was a lot of variety in different ways people walk, different environments people walk in,” he said. “Walkability is essential. As a transportation engineer, we’re thinking more about moving people rather than just moving cars.”