Earlier this month I took part in a walk audit of the Hagerstown, Maryland,  business district. Led by Ian Thomas of America Walks (pictured below in the red jacket), the walk audit consisted of a walk and talk about our perceptions of the walking environment.

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Our first stop (above) was at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue with Beechwood Drive, which lacked a crosswalk. We could see the businesses located just across the street, but accessing these businesses would require going out of our way and crossing  at two different intersections.

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During the walk audit, some of us strolled through Fairchild Avenue, a residential street parallel to Pennsylvania Avenue. The sidewalk, although narrow, was in good shape, and the grass strip served as a physical buffer from the traffic. But the lack of lane striping on this wide street and the lack of cars parked on either side is an invitation for vehicles to speed.

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At Irvin Avenue (below), we came across the disappearing sidewalk, which suddenly ended mid-block, leaving us with the option of walking on the street or through someone’s non-ADA accessible front yard.

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Back on Pennsylvania Avenue, we walked through a sidewalk that had gone on a diet, shrinking from about four feet to less than two, due to overgrown vegetation. We also walked through sections of sidewalk that were in an advanced state of disrepair.

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The climax of the walk audit was the fork on the road, where Pennsylvania splits in two (see Google picture below). The sidewalk on the right side tapers off into nothing. Peds stranded there have no legal options to cross to the other side. Our walking audit team thought this car-centric intersection would make a good candidate for a roundabout to help the traffic flow better and to give pedestrians opportunities for crossing the street.

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