Empty dirt lots. Broken and uneven sidewalks. Inadequate lighting. Not enough trees. Vagrants hanging out at bus stops. Parks with no amenities. Researchers at UC Riverside and other partners are trying to make an older part of the city more desirable to walk. UCR’s Center for Sustainable Suburban Development is leading a research project to work with residents to identify ways to make the Ramona and Arlington neighborhoods more walkable.
“What Riverside has in abundance are suburban neighborhoods in need of uplift,” said Juliann Allison, the center’s associate director. “This is a pioneering effort to create a more urban, walkable, healthy, community-oriented development from something that already exists.”
A piece of the project is a “walkability workshop” scheduled for Monday, Feb. 24, featuring a presentation and guided stroll around the area. Residents can offer suggestions for improvements for a plan expected to be considered by the Riverside City Council next year. This project falls directly in line with the goals of Seizing Our Destiny. Establishing highly walkable destinations are amenities that will attract and maintain a well-developed, highly sought-after workforce and make Riverside a location of choice.
The walkability plan follows the concept of new urbanism, a form of development that aims to improve public health by integrating shopping and housing in a pedestrian-friendly environment.
Researchers also have collected input at community meetings in the past year and plan a neighborhood survey. As part of the research, a study evaluating traffic and pollution in the area was performed, and it showed “the air quality was good” for walking, Allison said.
The project is paid for with a nearly $250,000 grant from the California Department of Transportation, as well as $26,000 in-kind funding from the Riverside County Department of Public Health and the Riverside County Transportation Commission.
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