The Blue Zones Project is directing its focus on some walkability and bikeability improvements in Shawnee, starting with one of the community's oldest streets — Broadway.

The Blue Zones Project is directing its focus on some walkability and bikeability improvements in Shawnee, starting with one of the community's oldest streets — Broadway.

About 30 area residents and Blue Zones leaders performed an audit of Broadway on bicycles Monday afternoon just before they — and several more —gathered for a town hall meeting at First Christian Church, at 1625 N. Broadway.

Blue Zones Project, with the leadership of walkability and urban design expert Dan Burden, an internationally recognized authority on livable and sustainable communities, healthy streets, traffic calming and bicycle and pedestrian programs. Over the past 35 years, Burden has helped more than 3,700 communities in this type of work.

Burden said strategies for built environment improvement — including a potential road diet — could include things like narrowing the car lanes, and adding things a bicycle lane, mini circles, curb extensions and/or medians with trees and landscaping. Burden said in University Place, Wash., a 61-percent decline in annual crashes was found as a result of implementing a road diet.

Burden led a team to help last year when Blue Zones assessed the built environment in the downtown area for ways to improve pedestrian-friendliness and bike travel.

Though the Shawnee community and its leaders are ultimately the decision-makers for any changes through these Blue Zones efforts, Blue Zones leaders are able to bring with them expert advice, ideas and past experiences to the table for review.

Burden didn't simply lecture the group on his extensive expertise on the subject, he required much input from the residents who attended.

He first polled the group on what they valued in the community — questioning why they live in Shawnee and what is important to them here. Later, he and his team will keep mindful of those needs and desires when coming up with suggestions and plans for local improvements.

Also, as some of the prime stakeholders, the residents were asked to gather around maps of their neighborhood and brainstorm ways they would like to see Broadway improved as a more community-friendly street.

Several city leaders also took part in the workshop.

Burden said within the next few weeks Blue Zones experts will mock up some plans based on Monday's discussion and input.

The Avedis Foundation sparked the partnership between the community and Blue Zones about a year and a half ago.

To learn more about Blue Zones Project, call the Blue Zones Project team in Pottawatomie County at (405) 765-8071 or visit www.bluezonesproject.com.

Watch for updates.