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AARP AARP States Alabama Community

Safe Streets: How Walk Audits Decrease Road Dangers

Birmingham's streets are safer and more accessible for all

Cracked sidewalks or none at all. Broken streetlights. Debris blocking the way.

When AARP member Linda Porter and other volunteers conducted a walk audit of their Birmingham neighborhoods in 2023, these were among the problems they found.

And while funding wasn’t immediately available to fix the issues, city leaders were grateful for the data. “Knowing how to do a walk audit is an excellent tool,” says Porter, 68, president of AARP Central Birmingham Chapter 4668.

Whether you’re walking, pushing a stroller or riding a bike, AARP Alabama is looking for ways to help you ditch the car — safely. It’s an important aspect of a livable community, and studies show older adults are disproportionately victims when vehicles strike pedestrians.

In 2018, AARP Alabama began working with the Birmingham mayor, city council and groups such as the United Way of Central Alabama and the Jefferson County Department of Health to pass the “Complete Streets” ordinance. That led to more visible crosswalks and new bike lanes.

After a previous AARP walk audit identified accessibility problems around a proposed bus terminal, the city decided to locate it elsewhere.

Since Complete Streets passed, the Birmingham area’s ranking in the “Dangerous by Design” pedestrian safety report has improved. In the 2019 report by nonprofit Smart Growth America, Birmingham was the nation’s 13th most dangerous metro area for walkers; in the 2022 report (using a different methodology), it was 34th, out of 101 ranked.

Porter is working to teach community groups how to perform walk audits. For a tool kit to do so, see

Audits are part of AARP’s Livable Communities initiative. Learn more at

—Stacey Shepard

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