An exploratory walk is a field observation method done by a small group. It is designed to identify both positive aspects of the neighbourhood’s public spaces and its areas of concern, including gaps in infrastructure and amenities. Some of the walk participants should live in or spend time in the area (residents, workers, etc.), but you can also extend invitations to decision-makers, built environment professionals and organizational partners.
This is an open-ended tool that brings people to explore and observe public spaces in the neighbourhood. Depending on the materials provided to participants (observation sheets, base maps, safety rating scales, etc.), you can also collect valuable qualitative data about neighbourhood public spaces, streets and sidewalks. Empowering residents to lead these walks is also an excellent way for them to share their lived expertise and to position residents as knowledge holders.
- Allow residents to take a leadership role, and facilitate walking groups of 6–8 people.
- Invite elected officials and planning professionals to help implementation happen in the future.
- If weather is bad, reduce the number of stops and amount of information to record and plan to hold the discussion periods in a sheltered area.
- Limit the length of the walk to 90 minutes.