Activity-Friendly Routes to Everyday Destinations
Activity-Friendly Routes to Everyday Destinations
Activity-friendly routes to everyday destinations is a strategy that improves the design of communities by connecting routes such as sidewalks, trails, bicycle lanes, and public transit to destinations such as grocery stores, schools, worksites, libraries, parks, or health care facilities. This strategy makes it safe and easy to walk, bicycle, or wheelchair roll for people of all ages and abilities.
Creating or modifying environments to make it easier for people to walk, bike, or take transit helps increase physical activity and can make our communities better places to live. Communities designed in this way are sometimes called complete communities, because they integrate land use planning, transportation planning, and community design and aim to meet the basic needs of all residents including access to safe physical activity.
Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Transit Transportation Systems
- An activity-friendly route is one that is a direct and convenient connection with everyday destinations, offering physical protection from cars, and making it easy to cross the street.
- Components to consider for intervention include:
- Street pattern design and connectivity.
- Pedestrian infrastructure.
- Bicycle infrastructure.
- Public transit infrastructure and access.
Land Use and Environmental Design
- Everyday destinations are places people can get to from where they live by walking, bicycling, or public transit. This can include grocery stores, schools, worksites, libraries, parks, restaurants, cultural and natural landmarks, or healthcare facilities. They are often desirable, useful, and attractive.
- Components to consider for intervention include:
- Mixed land use.
- Increased residential density.
- Community or neighborhood proximity.
- Parks and recreational facility access.
States, local governments, and community organizations use the following approaches to carry out this strategy:
Complete Streets policies.
Complete Streets policies support the routine design and operation of streets and communities that are safe for all pedestrians, regardless of age, ability, or transportation mode. Key features found on Complete Streets include sidewalks, protected bike lanes, special bus lanes, comfortable and accessible transit stops, frequent crossing opportunities, median islands, accessible pedestrian signals, and curb extensions.
Comprehensive or master plans.
A comprehensive plan, also called the general plan or community master plan, is the official statement of a local government establishing policies for its long-term development. These documents can be created through a collaboration between citizens, planners, and city leaders to include policies that guide investments to improve residents’ health outcomes by increasing physical activity opportunities.
Zoning policies influence the design of communities and the location of different land use types, such as commercial and residential development. This can influence distances between the two and in turn the feasibility for active travel. Policies outlined in comprehensive or master plans often guide zoning codes and other land development regulations.
Safe Routes is a comprehensive approach to improve safety and security for everyone walking, bicycling, and wheelchair rolling. Safe Routes approaches such as Safe Routes to School and Safe Routes to Parks include infrastructure improvements for better traffic laws, safety education, and incentives to encourage walking and bicycling to community destinations.
What Others Are Doing
- Real World Examples
This chart shows several real-world examples of combined built environment approaches.
- Data and Transportation as Vehicles for Community Health Planning in Maricopa, Arizona [PDF-3.15MB]
- Town Makes Strides to Create Safe Streets for Walking and Cycling in Arkansas
- To “be well,” a Neighborhood Engages in a Partnership between Public Health and Transportation in Denver, Colorado [PDF-3.08MB]
- Pedestrian and Bicycle Program Supports Local Physical Activity in Indiana
- Complete Streets Help Communities Build Safe Spaces for Physical Activity in Kansas
- Tailored Transit Options Get People Moving in Florida [PDF-1.78MB]
- Complete Streets Initiative Addresses Physical Activity and Obesity in Louisiana
- Better Transportation Infrastructure Can Mean Better Health in Massachusetts [PDF-3.34MB]
- Bike Racks Encourage Active Transportation in Pontiac, Michigan
- Community Input Leads to a Layered Approach for Healthy Transit Options in Minnesota [PDF-1.54MB]
- Streets Become Safer through Traffic Calming Demonstrations in St. Louis, Missouri
- Cities and Counties Working to Build Health into Community Design in Montana
- Hidalgo County Improves Bike Infrastructure to Help People Be More Active in Texas
- Communities Adopt Plans to Improve Spaces for Residents to Be More Active in Utah
A Guide to Building Healthy Streets
Communities can use this guide to put their Complete Streets policy into action. It focuses on how public health practitioners can work with other agencies to implement the policy and includes model Complete Streets policy language, information on how to address equity, community examples, and key resources.
Best Practices in Engaging Public Health in Complete Streets Initiatives [PDF-5.1MB]
This report summarizes key strategies and gives examples of how public health agencies, advocates, and practitioners have engaged in Complete Streets in 15 jurisdictions across the United States. Public health practitioners can use this report to learn about how to get involved with Complete Streets initiatives, potential barriers and challenges, and what has worked well in these jurisdictions.
Complete Streets Policies in the United States, 2000 – 2020 [PDF-12.6MB]
These maps show the adoption of state, local, and regional complete streets policies from 2000 to 2020.
Complete Streets in the Federal Highway Administration
A Complete Street is safe, and feels safe, for all users. Learn how the Federal Highway Administration supports state and local transportation agencies to plan, implement and evaluate equitable streets and networks that prioritize safety, comfort, and connectivity to destinations for all people who use the street network.
Small Town and Rural Multimodal Networks Guide*
Transportation professionals in small towns and rural communities can use this guide to apply national design guidelines in a rural setting. The guide includes case studies and focuses on opportunities for rural communities to make gradual improvements and contribute to innovation despite geographic, fiscal, and other challenges.
Urban Bikeway Design Guide
This guide explains methods that cities can use to create Complete Streets that are safe and enjoyable for bicyclists, based on the experience of the best cycling cities in the world. Required, recommended, and optional elements are given for each treatment.
Affordable and Well-Placed Housing
Affordable housing placed close to everyday destinations can allow access to jobs, grocery stores, and schools without a car, which can increase physical activity and reduce household expenses. Local governments in rural areas can use this toolkit to learn how to provide affordable housing that supports physical and economic health by changing zoning restrictions, protecting existing subsidized housing, and taking advantage of federal assistance.
Building Healthy Corridors [PDF-5.0MB]
This report is designed for a variety of audiences, including real estate developers, community planners, public and elected officials, public health professionals, transportation professionals, nonprofit leaders, and community decision makers. It provides guidance, strategies, and insights for transforming commercial corridors into places that support health for people who live, work, and travel along them.
Choosing Our Community’s Future
Citizens can use this guidebook to shape the growth and development of their neighborhoods, towns, and regions in positive ways. The guidebook is written in everyday language and includes photographs, stories, profiles of people and places, and the lessons learned. It also has links to local help, other resources, and a comprehensive glossary.
Components of Local Land Development and Related Zoning Policies Associated with Increased Walking: A Primer for Public Health Practitioners [PDF-5.1MB]
Public health and other practitioners can use this document as they prepare to engage with local planning and zoning officials. The primer gives specific community examples and links to key resources along with a glossary of key terms used by the planning and zoning sectors.
Form-Based Codes: A Step-by-Step Guide for Communities [PDF-9.1MB]
This handbook can help communities update their zoning ordinances to align with local comprehensive plans designed to create healthy, safe, walkable communities. It defines form-based codes and explains how they are created and how communities can use them to achieve their local vision for transportation, housing, economic development. The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning created this guide to help the region’s 284 communities.
Creating Walkable & Bikeable Communities [PDF-62.6MB]
This document can help community leaders and elected officials in rural, suburban, and smaller urban cities learn more about the range of options for bicycling and pedestrian facilities in their communities. The document provides tools, techniques, and samples to help strengthen the link between land use planning, street design, and active transportation, and to increase options for cycling and walking.
Health in the Development Review Process [PDF-974KB]
Public-sector planners at the city and county levels can use this guide to help with the regulatory aspects of comprehensive planning for health. The four sections address why and how to incorporate health into the development review process and how planners can lead the way in creating healthy communities.
Healthy Comprehensive Plan Assessment Tool (HCPAT)
This tool is for anyone interested in improving health outcomes in their community, including planners, public health professionals, and community advocates. The tool can help evaluate the strength of health-related policies in a community’s comprehensive plan by guiding users through an assessment of four key domains: Complete Streets, Complete Neighborhoods, Environmental Health, and Healthy Food Systems.
How to Create and Implement Healthy General Plans [PDF-2.7MB]
This toolkit helps planners and public health officials lay the groundwork for creating healthier communities through general plans. It gives advice on using health-supporting policies and creating interdisciplinary partnerships. The toolkit gives users a set of steps that can build upon one another without a fixed entry point. It focuses on engagement, from building relationships and assessing existing conditions to creating and implementing policy language.
Long-Range Planning for Health, Equity & Prosperity: A Primer for Local Governments*
This primer poses a series of questions and offers a framework and broad guidance on how planners, local leaders, advocates, researchers, and consultants can prioritize health and equity. Readers will learn how planning can support or hold back health equity. The primer explains how to integrate health and equity into everyday practice and decision making related to long-range planning, community engagement, investment, and evaluation processes.
Toolkit to Integrate Health Equity Into Comprehensive Plans* [PDF-1.9MB]
Planners can use this toolkit to address health and equity in their comprehensive plans and processes. It includes model language about goals, policies, and action items for promoting equity and participation in healthy community planning.
Building Blocks: A Guide to Starting and Growing a Safe Routes to School Program
This toolkit can help communities start a new Safe Routes to School program or strengthen an existing one. It gives a step-by-step approach on how to start a program, get the school and city on board, and make the program stronger over time.
Building Momentum for Safe Routes to School: A Toolkit for School Districts and City Leaders
This toolkit explains how school districts and city leaders can build and sustain a Safe Routes to School (SRTS) task force, structure and sustain a paid SRTS coordinator position, and adopt SRTS policies. The toolkit also includes examples of a task force invitation letter, job descriptions, city SRTS resolutions, and district SRTS policies.
Engaging Students with Disabilities in Safe Routes to School* [PDF-1.9MB]
This publication can help Safe Routes to School (SRTS) staff, volunteers, or program leaders plan and develop a program that meets the needs of students with disabilities. It describes the benefits of SRTS for students with disabilities, strategies for inclusion within each SRTS component, important components of inclusive programming, considerations for students with different kinds of disabilities, and ways to partner and build resources.
Safe Routes to Parks*
This guide provides park professionals with resources to help implement the Safe Routes to Parks Action Framework. It includes toolkits, assessments, online tools, and case studies. Under each section of the framework, the guide offers links to relevant resources and brief descriptions.
Vision Zero: A Health Equity Road Map for Getting to Zero in Every Community*
This brief offers recommendations to community practitioners for advancing health equity through Vision Zero, a growing movement among cities nationally and internationally to eliminate all traffic-related deaths and severe injuries within a chosen time period.
*Can be used to help address equitable and inclusive access to physical activity