A $3,650 grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and $1,000 mini-grant from C&S Wholesale Grocers will enable Antioch New England Institute (ANEI) and Cheshire County’s Vision 2020 project to conduct a Walkability Sidewalk Study in Keene. The study will provide detailed sidewalk infrastructure information to the City of Keene Public Works Department, the local Safe Routes to School project, and the City of Keene’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. The information gathered will also be given to Pathways for Keene, a non-profit group that promotes the development and use of alternative transportation routes in Keene.
As part of the study, Keene High School students will be interviewing residents on Keene sidewalks for a pilot run of a qualitative Walkability Checklist survey. The students hope to be out, weather permitting, in the next two weeks and will continue the pilot and final Walkability Checklist survey in the spring. The information gathered by these students will provide insight into local opinions about walking in Keene.
Earlier this fall, twenty Keene High School students, working with instructor Tom Sintros, completed quantitative sidewalk assessments surrounding Wheelock Elementary School. The students noted the presence, condition, material, and spatial characteristics of the sidewalks. Twenty-five more Keene High School students collected data surrounding Keene High, Symonds Elementary School, and Fuller Elementary School. Four Keene State College students from a Capstone project led by Professor of Geography Chris Cusak also participated. Anne Nordstrom, ANEI Vision 2020 project director, provided technical assistance to develop the data collection methodology.
Once detailed, quantitative data is in hand, maps will be created showing the locations of excellent, fair, and poor sidewalk conditions as well as roadways with no sidewalk access. Maps will also show sidewalk locations that are immediately adjacent to busy roadways versus those with a buffer between the road and the sidewalk.
This spring the project may expand to explore ways to entice more people to walk; for transportation, improved air quality, fuel savings, improved muscle tone, fitness, and enjoyment here in Keene.
Study partners include Antioch New England Institute, the Cheshire County Vision 2020 coalition, students from Keene High School’s Environmental Science class led by Tom Sintros, and Keene State College capstone project students.