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Connectivity Walkshop participants broke into small groups to discuss ways to improve Crosslake’s sidewalk and trail system. - photo by Bill Monroe
Dan Burden (left) of Blue Zones led those attending the Connectivity Walkshop June 13 in Crosslake on a walking audit to discuss ways to maximize the city’s walking and biking traffic. - photo by Bill Monroe

“Walkshop” to improve walkability in Crosslake

Web posted June 20, 2017
By Bill Monroe, Northland Press Correspondent

People attending the Connectivity Walkshop at the Crosslake Lutheran Church June 13 learned that 80 percent of people say they want to live in a walkable community but only 14 percent of the nation’s towns fit the Walkshop facilitators’ definition of walkable. The Blue Zones Project helps towns create local programs to improve transportation and connectivity infrastructure. Dan Burden, Blue Zones Director of Innovation and Inspiration and Blue Zones Built Environment Manager Samantha Thomas led the Walkshop discussions. Blue Zones defines walkable communities as those that are “designed around the human, specifically the human foot, and are reflective of the care, collaboration and forward thinking of citizens and civic leaders to create equitable access to the places we live, go to work, school, shop and play”.

Last year the Crosslakers organization held several town meetings to identify and prioritize ideas to improve the city. One of the top suggestions was to enhance the existing network of trails and to make it easier for citizens and visitors to navigate all parts of town by foot.

The Minnesota Design Team later made several suggestions under the category of “connectivity” or finding ways for people to more easily connect to all parts of the city.

In January, the Crosslakers and the Greater Lakes Association of Realtors (GLAR) applied for a $15,000 grant from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to hold a workshop event to identify opportunities for improving the current trails system. The NAR approved the grant, the only such grant awarded in the country. GLAR added an additional $1,500 grant. The day before the Walkshop Burden and Thomas met with a group of Realtors, Crosslakers and civic leaders to examine and discuss the existing trail system.

“The purpose of the Walkshop is to help empower and inspire local residents to design new ways to enhance the ability of people to walk or bike throughout the town,” according to Thomas. "It also provides a social engagement where local citizens and community leaders are brought together to discuss the future of their community,” she said.

Participants discussed ways to improve the ability to get from one place in town to another without a motorized vehicle. Blue Zones will incorporate the citizen input received at the Walkshop to create an action plan that will present several trail design options for city leaders to consider.

Among the recommendations he made Burden said:
• A city should resolve to include all forms of movement including walking and biking when improving its streets;

• Streets should be designed to promote short, local trips rather than longer regional trips;

• A 20 mile per hour speed limit is optimum for a downtown area;

• Existing roadways should limit vehicle lanes to 10 feet in width to allow for creation of bike lanes and to encourage drivers to slow down;

• The use of roundabouts promotes increased safety and

• Crosslake should add more and better marked crosswalks long County Road 66.

Registrants broke into small groups to discuss ways to improve walkability in Crosslake. Suggestions they came up with included:
• Extending trails to South Bay Park;

• Adding a pedestrian footbridge across Daggett Brook for walking and biking;

• Establishing trails that ring Cross Lake and the City of Crosslake;

• Erecting a series of interpretive signs on trails and

• Erecting a series of locational signs along the city’s sidewalks and trails.

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