We mentioned the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent endorsement of bicycle lanes to curb obesity trends along with the Secretary of the Department of Transportation, Ray LaHood, citing Portland as THE model for 21st century US city planning, and it now appears more organizations are coming online in support each month. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently reference complete street implementation by name or in principal, and the much anticipated Moving Cooler report released by the Urban Land Institute discusses the impact CS have on lowering greenhouse gases. As anticipated by early Urbanism advocates, the snowball effect from the success of sustainability planning from cities like Portland and Boulder would translate to not only noted increases in “livable streets” but also as engines for economic revitalization for blighted urban areas. There are now 108 US cities officially ranked as Bike-Friendly, with major bicycle infrastructure in place, and hundreds more are online now or in various stages of development. In six years, our sister city of Fort Worth will stripe 470+ miles of bicycle lanes, and rank as one of the most impressive bicycle communities in the nation.
From the Complete Streets blog:
“The “Health Impact Assessment: A Step Towards Health in All Polices” (subscription required), JAMA discusses the important role Health Impact Assessments (HIAs) can play in enabling project planners to consider the community health effects a particular project or program is likely to have. JAMA gives the example that while air pollution and injury prevention are common in transportation options, the effect of road design on physical activity and obesity is not. HIAs that recommend complete streets would thus cover that public health aspect.
Second, AAP highlights the role physical inactivity has on childhood obesity in “The Built Environment: Designing Communities to Promote Physical Activity in Children.” The policy statement discusses the role a community’s built environment has in encouraging or discouraging physical activity. The statement suggests that in addition to providing green space and recreational facilities for children, establishing policies and programs that enable children to walk or bike to and from school are critical in meeting the recommended daily minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity. This “incidental” exercise can be encouraged by implementing complete street components such as traffic calming single-lane roundabouts, pedestrian islands on high traffic streets, and improved sidewalk aesthetics to made children’s walks more enjoyable.”