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Background: Streetscape-level neighborhood walking conditions may impact access to public transit and opportunities for healthy lifestyles. However, little data are currently available about these factors for streets within Kansas City, MO (KCMO).

Objective: This project engaged community members to collect information about streetscape features surrounding bus stops in KCMO neighborhoods. Data collected from this project was disseminated back to community members to support planning and foster advocacy amongst KCMO communities.

Methods: Community members were recruited and trained to serve as “Citizen Scientists” by conducting walk audits of KCMO streets surrounding bus stops. Walk audits were conducted using a tool adapted from the Microscale Audit of Pedestrian Streetscapes (MAPS) tool and examined features related to street segments (blocks), intersections, and bus stops. The tool covered constructs such as street and land use, street infrastructure, bus stop amenities, aesthetics and social characteristics, and perceptions (e.g., safety). Audit routes began at a bus stop and traveled 4 blocks in multiple directions surrounding the stop toward the nearest residential and commercial areas.

Results: In total, 36 Citizen Scientists participated in training and certification to conduct walk audits. Audits were completed for 257 bus stops and 318 walking routes. 29% of walking routes near bus stops had poor sidewalk quality, 77% of intersections on street blocks that had a bus stop had poor crossing quality, and 44% of bus stops had poor quality amenities (e.g., no sidewalks (8%) and/or no lighting (28%)). Additionally, Citizen Scientists reported feeling “unsafe” while walking on 17% of street blocks audited. Maps were created for 11 high-poverty KCMO Zip Codes to indicate the quality of the specific sidewalks, crossings, and bus stops audited. Following data collection, Citizen Scientists engaged in a community advocacy event to share the information collected and lessons learned with other community members and leaders.

Conclusions: The community-based approach of this project was feasible for completing a large number of walk audits across KCMO and enabled community members to engage in data-driven advocacy for their neighborhoods. The community advocacy event was attended by city leaders who engaged with Citizen Scientists about their work. Neighborhood conditions varied highly across neighborhoods and low-income neighborhoods had several barriers to pedestrian safety.

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Neighborhood Walking Environments Around Bus Stops: A Community-Based Participatory Approach for Streetscape Data Collection