Mariko Davidson will spend IAP collaborating with non-profits Groundwork Lawrence and WalkBoston on pedestrian safety issues and increasing walkability in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The project will highlight safe pedestrian routes and propose design solutions to connect people from central Lawrence to the new Spicket River Greenway path system. This proposal will be submitted to the Mayor¹s Health Task Force in a community-wide effort to create a more pedestrian-friendly environment.
BLOGGING FROM THE FIELD
January 13, 2012
Hi everyone, my name is Mariko Davidson. I am a Master’s in City Planning student at MIT. This month I will be working with non-profits Groundwork Lawrence and WalkBoston on pedestrian safety issues to help improve walkability in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The Greenway is currently under construction with plans to be ready for public use later in the year.
Some Background Information:
Lawrence was originally established as one of the first planned industrial cities in 1845, with a thriving industry based on milling. Today it is one of the poorest cities within Massachusetts, despite its close proximity to Boston. A poor financial situation worsened by the Great Recession has stressed existing services and threatened to bankrupt the city. In addition, Lawrence has the highest rate of obesity and diabetes in the state with diet and other lifestyle-related disease rates increasing.
See how Lawrence has changed from 1844 in this historical map slide show from the Lawrence History Center.
About the Spicket River Greenway:
Under a $2.6 million dollar Commonwealth Gateway City Parks grant, Groundwork Lawrence in conjunction with the City of Lawrence, is overseeing the development of the Spicket River Greenway. According the Groundwork Lawrence, the Greenway will be a three-mile long “‘emerald bracelet’ of green spaces and walking paths connecting parks and open space through multiple neighborhoods, meets multiple bottom lines by helping the community achieve the dual goals of riverfront restoration and neighborhood revitalization.” In addition to providing much needed access, this project is also cleaning an old, contaminated Brownfield, reducing chronic flooding and creating a linear park system for its residents. Now Groundwork Lawrence with WalkBoston and the Mayor’s Health Taskforce want to link this area’s schools, businesses and institutions to the new Greenway via pedestrian walkways to create a more livable and walkable community.
What I am Working On:
This was the first week working with Groundwork Lawrence and WalkBoston. Our partners are currently looking ahead to determine once the Greenway is up, how can they ensure the community will use the path system? Are there areas that will continue to need improvement after the initial construction?
Once the pathway system is available, the community will need to access the path. However, if there are no sidewalks or missing crosswalks, it will be difficult and potentially dangerous for pedestrians. This is where our project comes in. After meeting with the team, we determined the first step is to assess the existing conditions of routes connecting several key institutions with the Greenway. The institutions are key places of use and employment including elementary schools, high schools, adult learning centers, libraries, health centers and other public institutions. Once this information is complete we can then input this information into a map. This map will be used for planners and developers to improve access to the Greenway.
My teammate and I used the week to complete several walking assessments. Here are some of the photos from these trips. We have a lot of work ahead of us!