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Community Design Resources

Tools to help increase physical activity

Key points

  • States and communities can encourage physical activity by making changes to their community designs.
  • This page provides resources for people and groups working on these projects.
Two women walking.


Increasing physical activity through community design involves connecting to everyday destinations through activity-friendly routes.

Everyday destinations include homes, workplaces, schools, parks, health care, and food outlets. Activity-friendly routes include pedestrian, bicycle, and transit transportation networks.

The following resources provide information about community designs for physical activity.

Man putting a bike on a bus.
Activity-friendly routes to transit stops can encourage physical activity.

Community Preventive Services Task Force recommendations

Built Environment Approaches Combining Transportation System Interventions With Land Use and Environmental Design
Combines efforts to improve pedestrian or bicycle transportation systems with land use and environmental design projects to increase physical activity.

Interventions to Increase Active Travel to School
Programs to increase walking among students and reduce risks of traffic-related injuries.

Health equity and inclusion

Strategies for Equitable and Inclusive Access*
Describes how every Active People, Healthy NationSM strategy can support the goal of equitable and inclusive access to opportunities for physical activity.

Health Equity Resources*
Tools to help communities, programs, and initiatives work to remove barriers to health and achieve health equity. Also, see health equity data.

Shared Spaces & Health Equity: Lessons From a Pandemic*
A field scan of active transportation policies and projects conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

*Can be used to help address equitable and inclusive access to physical activity.

Assessments and data

Active Communities Tool
Helps cross-sector teams create an action plan to improve community environments that promote physical activity and meet the needs of their community.

Bicycling & Walking in the United States: Benchmarking Report
Publicly available data on bicycling and walking.

Built Environment Assessment Tool and Manual
Tool to help measure the core features and qualities of the built environment.

Child Opportunity Index
Indicators of resources available for children in neighborhoods.

Complete Streets Policy Adoption
Maps of U.S. adoption of state, local, and regional Complete Streets Policies from 2000 to 2021.

Create Thriving, Activity-Friendly Communities
Resources to help communities use economic indicators to assess and apply infrastructure investments more equitably.

Dangerous by Design 2022
Provides information on street safety for active transportation and local data on pedestrian deaths.

Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)
Data on fatal traffic crashes within the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Geospatial Data Storefront
Searchable geospatial datasets, web-based mapping tools, and application programming interfaces.

Housing + Transportation Affordability Index (H+T Index)
Maps, charts, and stats on housing and transportation costs at the neighborhood level for 917 metro and micro areas.

Making Strides 2022: State Report Cards on Support for Walking, Bicycling, and Active Kids and Communities
Reveals how supportive each state is for walking, bicycling, and physical activity.

Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity: Data, Trends, and Maps
National and state data on weight status, eating habits, physical activity, and breastfeeding behaviors. Includes information about environmental and policy supports.

The Trust for Public Land’s ParkServe®
Park-related data for 14,000 U.S. cities and towns. See the location of parks in a community, neighborhoods within a 10-minute walk to a park, and areas that do not have access to a park.

PLACES: Local Data for Better Health
Model-based, population-level analysis and community estimates for U.S. counties, incorporated and census-designated places, census tracts, and ZIP Code Tabulation Areas.

Smart Location Database
Nationwide, geographic data on housing density, land use diversity, neighborhood design, destination accessibility, transit service, employment, and demographics.

Walkability Index
Dataset characterizes every U.S. Census block group based on its relative walkability.

WISQARSTM Injury Data (Web-Based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System)
Fatal and nonfatal injury, violent death, and cost of injury data.

Training and technical assistance

Champions Corner
Resources to support and create safe and complete streets.

Walkability Action Institute
Prepares interdisciplinary teams from regional planning organizations to create action plans supporting walking and walkability policies and plans.

Walking College
Online, educational program to build local capacity to create action plans that increase walking and improve walkability.

Activity-friendly routes

The following resources provide information about activity-friendly routes.

Friends crossing the street.
Activity-friendly routes include pedestrian, bicycle, and transit transportation networks.

Complete Streets policies

A Guide to Building Healthy Streets
Includes model policy language, how to address equity, community examples, and key resources to help public health implement Complete Streets.

Public Health Engagement in Complete Streets Initiatives: Examples and Lessons Learned
Best practices, how to get involved, potential barriers and challenges, and what worked well in 15 jurisdictions.

Complete Streets in the Federal Highway Administration
Federal support for state and local transportation agencies to plan, implement, and evaluate equitable streets and networks.

Small Town and Rural Multimodal Networks*
Includes case studies, ways to make gradual improvements, and ways to contribute to innovation despite geographic, fiscal, and other challenges.

Urban Bikeway Design Guide
Guide to create Complete Streets that are safe and enjoyable for bicyclists. Includes required, recommended, and optional elements.

Public transit

Public Health Action Guide: Public Transportation
Promotes the health benefits of expanding public transit options and shares actions for public health professionals.

Transit Street Design Guide
Tips for developing transit facilities on city streets and designing and engineering city streets. The goal is to prioritize transit, improve transit service quality, and support other transit-related goals.

Equity in Practice: A Guidebook for Transit Agencies*
How some agencies are changing transit practices that marginalize many groups. Suggests how to confront racism and discrimination in decision-making and establish new protocols to prioritize riders who have been neglected.

Safe Routes

Building Blocks: A Guide to Starting and Growing a Strong Safe Routes to School Program
How to start a program, get the school and city on board, and strengthen the program over time.

Building Momentum for Safe Routes to School: A Toolkit for School Districts and City Leaders (SRTS)
How to build and sustain an SRTS task force, structure and sustain a paid SRTS coordinator position, and adopt SRTS policies. Includes examples of an invitation letter, job descriptions, city resolutions, and district policies.

Engaging Students With Disabilities in Safe Routes to School*
Describes benefits, strategies, components of inclusive programming, considerations for students with disabilities, and ways to partner and build resources.

Safe Routes to Parks Action Framework*
Provides park professionals with resources and best practices to help implement Safe Routes to Parks.

Vision Zero

Vision Zero is a movement to eliminate traffic-related deaths and severe injuries.

Vision Zero: A Health Equity Road Map for Getting to Zero in Every Community*
Offers recommendations for advancing health equity.

Vision Zero Implementation Toolkit
Helps communities develop and implement a Vision Zero policy.

Zero Deaths and Safe System
Using the Safe Systems approach for the vision of eliminating traffic-related deaths.

*Can be used to help address equitable and inclusive access to physical activity.

Everyday destinations

The following resources provide information about eveyday destinations.

A walkable town.
Everyday destinations include homes, workplaces, schools, parks, health care, and food outlets.

Land use planning

Everyday Destinations
A blog series describing 15 planning approaches for small and rural communities.

Fostering Healthy Communities Through Planning and Public Health Collaboration
Shows how planners and public health professionals can work together to create healthy communities.

Comprehensive or master plans

Creating Walkable & Bikeable Communities
Options for bicycling and pedestrian facilities in rural, suburban, and smaller urban cities. Includes tools, techniques, and samples.

Health in the Development Review Process
Guide to regulatory aspects of planning for health in cities and counties. Addresses why and how to incorporate health into the development review process.

How to Create and Implement Healthy General Plans
Suggestions for health-supporting policies, interdisciplinary partnerships, steps for action without fixed entry points, and community engagement.

Long-Range Planning for Health, Equity & Prosperity: A Primer for Local Governments*
Framework on integrating health and equity into everyday practice and decision-making related to long-range planning, community engagement, investment, and evaluation processes.

Toolkit to Integrate Health and Equity Into Comprehensive Plans*
Helps local planners integrate health and equity into their plans by focusing on interwoven equity, healthy community, and authentic participation.

Zoning policies

Building Healthy Corridors
How a variety of professionals can transform commercial corridors into places that support health for people who live, work, and travel there.

Choosing Our Community's Future
Guidebook for citizens to shape growth and development. Includes photographs, stories, profiles of people and places, lessons learned, resources, and a glossary.

Components of Local Land Development and Related Zoning Policies Associated with Increased Walking: A Primer for Public Health Practitioners
How to engage with local planning and zoning officials. Gives specific community examples and links to key resources along with a glossary.

Cracking the Zoning Code
Describes the components of zoning codes, how zoning works, and how reforms to zoning maps, codes, and procedures could improve housing affordability and racial equity.

Form-Based Codes: A Step-by-Step Guide for Communities
Helps communities update zoning ordinances to align with local comprehensive plans to create healthy, safe, walkable communities. Explains how communities can use form-based codes to achieve their vision for transportation, housing, and economic development.

Providing Well-Placed Affordable Housing in Rural Communities
Toolkit for rural local governments to help provide affordable housing that supports physical and economic health by changing zoning restrictions, protecting existing subsidized housing, and taking advantage of federal assistance.

*Can be used to help address equitable and inclusive access to physical activity