The Williamsburg Accessibility Project: Steps to an Accessible Active Williamsburg Environmental SociologyThe College ofWilliam and MaryStudents and Prof. Timmons RobertsSpring, 2005
THE PROBLEM • Reliance on automobiles causes a multitude of problems including environmental and health problems. • The Greater Williamsburg Area is heavily reliant on automobiles. • We have great potential to improve non-automotive means of transportation.
HEALTH CONCERNS: OBESITY • In 2005, Virginia was ranked as the worst state in the U.S. for obesity. • One in three children in the United States is now overweight.
Less than 10% Obese 15-20% Obese 10-14% Obese More than 20% Obese IN ONLY 15 YEARS …To This We Went From This… No data More than 25% Obese
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO WALK IN AMERICA TODAY? Corner of Lafayette and Wythe, Williamsburg, VA Anytown, USA
Strawberry Plains Road, Williamsburg, VA “Where the Sidewalk Ends” Anytown, USA
SAFETY • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of injury death in the United States. • About 13 percent of all traffic fatalities are pedestrians or cyclists, although less than 6 percent of all trips are made by foot or bicycle. • Pedestrian injury remains the second leading cause of death among children ages 5 to 14. • Accident rates drop when there are more pedestrian and bicyclist present.
POPULATION AND VEHICLE REGISTRATION GROWTH IN THE GREATER WILLIAMSBURG AREA
SURVEY OF CITIZEN ATTITUDES Conducted in Spring of 2005 • Goal: To provide practical solutions to overcome the problem of car dependency in Greater Williamsburg • Survey Methodology • Student interviewers • Respondents: Homeowners, Students, Retirees, Townhomes/Apartment Dwellers, Tourists, Seasonal Workers/Migrant Workers, and Low Income Residents in James City County, York, & Williamsburg • Data Analysis • Qualitative use of quotations • Presentation of Results: press, academic, community forum
“access to public transportation” “access to school, shops, work, etc.” “bike lanes” “bus service” “fill potholes” “education on bike traffic rules” “improve sidewalks” “landscape beautification” “less traffic” “lighting” “make it safe to walk” “make roads safer for bicyclists” “more bus routes” “more bus stops” “more curb cuts” “more street crossings” “reasonably priced, conveniently scheduled, flexible destination public transportation” “road maintenance” “sidewalks” “street crossings” “wider shoulders” “wider sidewalks SURVEY QUESTION RESPSONSE: What improvements are most important to you?
“awful” “bad-I need my car for work” “I can't imagine” “I could not survive” “difficult, but options are available” “difficult” “extremely difficult” “fine to stores, hard for anything else” “hard to keep my job” “horrible” “very difficult” “I couldn't go anywhere” “I would be immobilized” “I wouldn't be able to live” “I couldn’t get my kids places” “I’d learn to use other transportation.” “impossible” “I'd rely on the bus” “life-changing” “not easy” “not feasible” “sad affair” “terrible” “too hard” “very difficult” “I would be very isolated” “it would hinder activity” “this community requires a car SURVEY QUESTION RESPONSES:What would it be like for you to get around without a car?
Increase bike lanes More crosswalks More lighting Better bus system Encourage carpooling HOMEOWNER IMPROVEMENT SUGGESTIONS:
STUDENTS • Survey results show that… • Bus service around campus is very good, but getting around off campus is very difficult • The greatest number of people walking or biking in any area surveyed was found on campus. • The main complaint from numerous students was the bus system, which they stated was not efficient and lacked well-stated, available bus schedules.
RETIREES SURVEY RESPONSES QUESTION: “Are you satisfied with the accessibility in your neighborhood/area for walking, biking and utilizing other means of public transportation?”
Continue maintenance and upkeep of the walk paths Promote an active healthy lifestyle for those who are physically able encourage the use of the already existing walk paths Utilize the Chambrel retirement community as a “mini example” for the cities as a whole for the positive results of well built walk/bike paths RETIREE IMPROVEMENT RECOMMENDATIONS:Chambrel, Patriots Colony, Williamsburg Landing
Surveys conducted at: Blayton Building Conway Garden Apartments Governor’s Square Apartments King and Queen Apartments Merrimac Trail Apartments The Midlands Steeplechase Apartments Stonehouse Apartments Mode of transportation most used was the car Most Apartment Complexes: Had sidewalks but many did not connect Had very few curb cuts or crosswalks Contained few, if any, bike lanes or walking lanes RESULTS FROM:Townhome/Apartment Dwellers
Improve bus service to and from the major attractions: City expand routes Hotels provide shuttles Private cooperative company Give tax breaks, hotels would not have to charge much for shuttle services, making people more likely to take the shuttle even if the service is infrequent Better publicized bus routes Stroller rental services in Colonial Williamsburg TOURIST IMPROVEMENT RECOMMENDATIONS
IMPROVEMENT RECOMMENDATIONS FROM LOW INCOME RESIDENTS • Two types: The Blayton Building (in mixed development) vs. others (more isolated) • Implement: Carpooling or specialized routes of neighborhood vans (instead of indirect, impractical and underused bus routes) • Community planning to promote non-car options! • Make biking safer and easier (more lights, wider lanes)
Williamsburg Accessibility Project, Percent of Trips by Foot or Bicycle Campus Campus King and Queen Apartments Conway Garden Aparments Virginia Ave. Richmond Road 616 Scotland Street Stonehouse Wiliiamsburg Landing Skipwith Farms First Colony Holly Hills Seasonal workers York Terrace York County Jamestown 1607 Steeplecase Apartments Seasonal workers Merrimac Trail Wiliamsburg Landing Longhill Chambrel Retirement Community Mobile Home Estates Governor's Land Chambrel Retirement Community Longhill Old Mooretown Road 0.0% 10.0% 20.0% 30.0% 40.0% 50.0% 60.0% percent
“Imagine if we took your car away from you. What would it be like for you to get around without it?” “Impossible! You definitely need a car.” “It would be frustrating, demoralizing. I’d stay at home.” “A disaster. I’d be scared to walk around.” “I would be immobilized. I’m not in good enough shape to walk to all the places that I need to go or even to the nearest bus stop, which is quite a distance from my home.”
“Of all the improvements that could be made, what is, by far, the most important to you?” • Better access to where I need to go • Better access to public transportation • Better bike paths and bus service • Bike lanes • Safety for biking or walking • More street crossings, wider road shoulders, wider sidewalks
Policy Proposals Solutions should address the following needs: • Buses and bus routes to attract users, with visible routes and stops • Accessible buses that are pedestrian and cyclist friendly • Areas not serviced directly by bus are still reachable for pedestrians and cyclists • Designate a committee representing area districts to determine needy neighborhoods for retro-fitting, including: new sidewalks, bike lanes, crosswalks, curb cuts, and lighting.
NEXT STEPSThe Short Term Approach • Goal: focus on simple, cost-effective tools • Improve public transportation (bus routes, bus shelters, bike lanes, publicity) Beautification and benches for pedestrian paths • Improve quality of outdoorrecreation/transportation (connect paths, beautification and maintenance, GIS links)
Next StepsTheLong Term Approach • Goal: comprehensive development, research, and implementation • Increase presence/voice in the community (expand membership, community events, forge alliances) • Increase presence in local government (Best Practices for zoning, funding for 2002 Greenways Master Plan, retrofit neighborhoods) • Continue to research and assess community transportation needs • Ultimate Goal: bring together all stakeholders to promote healthy, safe, environmentally-friendly community
So…What Can I Do? • Be active! Take note of areas in need of improvement and of possible future linkages between places you want to go. • Communicate your needs to VDOT and local officials. • Adopt a trail, path, or sidewalk. • Organize a walking, running, or biking club or other group to get out together and go places, or contact the local recreation center to join an already existing group. • Join a group that’s working on these issues, such as the Active Williamsburg Alliance.