Wilkes-Barre, a town in northeastern Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley with a population of 40,000 people, received from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Active Living by Design initiative a 5-year grant in 2003. The grantee, Wyoming Valley Wellness Trails Partnership and other organizations worked to create a revitalized, walkable downtown. The partnership implemented mixed-use development and created a business-improvement district with a focus on cleanliness and security. Other activities included extensive renovation of River Common Park, part of the trail network in the downtown area running along the Susquehanna River.
To understand the impact of walkability improvements, these researchers piloted a Wilkes-Barre Downtown Bicycle and Pedestrian Count. The partnership selected seven sites to capture data—a public transportation hub, key retail locations, a community center, and river access points. During 18 hours of counting, staff record