Metro's Regional Travel Options Program developed the Walk There! guidebook through an innovative partnership between planning and public health organizations. The partnership sought to increase the number of people walking for transportation and health purposes. The projects common goal was to increase the share of trips made on foot while decreasing trips made in motor vehicles to ease traffic congestion, reduce air pollution and enhance public and community health. A grant from Kaiser Permanente provided $50,000 to support printing the guidebook. Consultant fees and some of Metro's staff time were supported by a Federal Highway Administration Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) grant.
Metro, Kaiser Permanente, and more than 100 community partners distributed 35,000 free copies of the guidebook to the public. The launch of the guidebook was paired with classes, walking campaigns and promotions in local communities, including six guided walking tours.
The Walk There! guidebook offers 50 detailed routes organized by color-coded regional sections and type of walk, and is indexed by city. Routes vary from easy strolls to longer distance walks with elevated terrain. An informational bar on the first page of each route lists the difficulty rating, GPS coordinates for the start location, and length. Walk There! maps blend aerial photography with detailed cartography to provide information about community features near each walking route: including commercial districts, parks, historical sites, schools, and other points of interest. A unique feature of the program is that every walk in the book begins and ends at a transit stop to encourage citizens to use transit to access the routes and increase awareness of available transit services. The book also includes information about the health benefits of walking, pedestrian safety tips, and refers to web pages that feature downloadable copies of the maps and route descriptions in the book, as well as links to other walking maps and resources (See: www.oregonmetro.gov/walk).
Metro conducted an email survey of 2,852 guidebook recipients in October and November 2008 to gather feedback on the guidebook. 651 responses were received (23% response rate). The responses were very positive, with recipients reporting that guidebook motivated them to walk more (34%) and helped them to discover trails and new places to walk (59%). Survey respondents tended to be employed outside the home (59%), female (73%) and 45-64 years of age (56%).