Walkability Forum Held In Bangor

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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - People from across the state converged on Bangor Tuesday morning to discuss how to make their communities more friendly to walking.

It was called a Walkability Forum.

The goal was to raise awareness of the benefits of having more people walking in and around cities and towns.

"Livable communities are places where people want to spend their time and by making them more walkable and accessible it makes a more vibrant downtown and village center." Said Tyler Kidder with Grow Smart Maine. She defined "walkability" as the ability to move around safely on foot.

But it has to come naturally and conveniently for people to park their vehicle and walk.

"How we make walkability something that comes naturally whether we put it into our planning so when we build new roads we're adding a bike path or we're making sure we put in sidewalks, all those things that are important," said Patty Hamilton the Public Health Director City of Bangor. "We know that people, that's what people want if you visit a city that's what you want you want to be able to walk and explore and so we're trying to leverage that."

While there were discussions about what walkability is or how it is implemented, this forum was also about what can be done to make people want to walk within a community.

"I think if we can increase the awareness that it's good to walk or good to use public transportation, park in the parking garage and then walk downtown so that the downtown is a little friendlier place to be, it's easier to cross the streets whether you are a senior or whether you have a baby carriage or whether you're you know walking around," said Hamilton.

Much of it focuses on neighborhoods in downtowns around the state, Grow Smart Maine also wants all ages to be encouraged to get out and walk.

"We also really want to inspire kids to walk or bike to school so how can we build communities that support that and for our elderly population they're not moving as fast, their vision might be impaired so we need to make sure they're safe as well, and we know in Maine we have a lot of older folks who are moving into our downtowns," said Kidder.

You can find out more about their programs by visiting their website www.GrowSmartMaine.org.