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Why is health so important to consider when designing streets? Explore this question and other topics in the upcoming webinar.
By National Complete Streets Coalition
The way streets are designed can have a major impact on health, but health is seldom taken into account when planning streets. By prioritizing convenience for cars, transportation planners have built a road network that discourages physical activity. This has created a system where Americans sit in their cars for long periods of time burning gasoline instead of calories, while active transportation options such as walking and biking remain inconvenient or even dangerous. Between 2005 and 2014, 46,149 people were struck and killed by cars while walking. Meanwhile, obesity rates have risen to unprecedented levels: over 36% of adults and 17% of children nationwide are obese. This is not a coincidence.
What are Complete Streets?
A Complete Streets approach provides users of all ages and abilities with transportation choices including biking, walking, or riding public transit. Consequently, Complete Streets have a positive impact on health. They are safer for those who bike or walk, which promotes physical activity and reduces the risk of obesity and heart disease. They can also improve air quality by decreasing emissions from cars, and they can enhance quality of life by connecting neighborhoods to parks, grocery stores, and other resources. These positive effects make Complete Streets a natural ally of public health.
The shared goals of Complete Streets and public health present an important opportunity for collaboration. Public health professionals can and should get involved in the transportation planning process to ensure streets are designed with health and safety in mind. To help forge this alliance between transportation and public health, the National Complete Streets Coalition is teaming up with Voices for Healthy Kids and the American Public Health Association to provide public health advocates with the tools and resources they need to effectively engage with transportation officials, beginning with a webinar exploring The Role of Public Health in Complete Streets.
Join us for a webinar at 1PM EST on February 15th to learn more.
You don’t need to be an engineer or planner to advocate for Complete Streets. That’s because Complete Streets is a process, not a product. In order to change the way we use roads, we must first change the way we think about them. That means changing the culture of Departments of Transportation and encouraging key decision makers to consider the health and safety of all users of the street, not just the convenience of cars. Public health advocates can help drive this culture change by lending their knowledge and expertise to the transportation planning process. The upcoming webinar is a great first step to get involved!
The Role of Public Health in Complete Streets webinar will provide an overview of how public health advocates can join the Complete Streets movement. It will begin with an overview of the National Complete Streets Coalition’s strategic plan: to champion the equitable implementation of Complete Streets policies. Voices for Healthy Kids will explain strategies public health advocates can use to ensure transportation officials make an ongoing commitment to healthy street design, including building holistic community health assessments into the planning process. They will also highlight other connections between transportation planning and the determinants of health, such as education, affordable housing, and social justice issues. The American Public Health Association will explore several case studies of towns and cities where Complete Streets were implemented in collaboration with public health. These case studies will demonstrate how working with public health allowed these places to focus on equity and overcome barriers to Complete Streets. The webinar hopes to inspire public health advocates to take on an active role in transforming their own communities, creating Complete Streets that encourage physical activity and promote health.
We hope you will join us at the webinar and in the Complete Streets movement. Together, transportation and public health can pave the way to a safer, healthier future.