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January 9, 2020

Report says Worcester's commitment to walkability could be stronger 

Photo | Grant Welker Main Street in Worcester is being remade with new paving and sidewalks. A Worcester Regional Research Bureau report aims to encourage the city to become more walkable.

A report released Thursday by the Worcester Regional Research Bureau says Worcester is trailing five other Central Massachusetts communities in its commitment to creating a walkable city.

The research bureau report rated Greater Worcester communities based on their adoption of a Massachusetts Department of Transportation program called Complete Streets, aimed at pedestrian and bike-friendly streets.

The report rated Shrewsbury, Millbury, Leicester, Spencer and West Boylston the highest for their approval of Complete Streets as a prioritization plan. The communities of Worcester, Auburn, Holden and North Brookfield achieved the next highest rating in the report for approving a policy but otherwise not gone as far in their adoption as the first tier of communities.

Other communities have taken no steps, including Boylston, Grafton, Northborough and Westborough.

The research bureau said it did so in hopes that residents get more involved with helping their community become more walkable. Studies have confirmed a relationship between walkability and health, the bureau said.

The Complete Streets program, as the name implies, prioritizes a design for roadways considering all modes of transportation, including vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists. The MassDOT program provides technical assistance and funding priority to communities adopting its guidelines.

According to the state, 174 cities and towns have instituted a prioritization plan, as Shrewsbury and others have. A total of 210 have approved a policy as Worcester and others have.

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