Bike, Walk, and Wheel

A Way of Life in Columbia, Missouri, Revisited

Columbia residents walked and biked more in 2009 than previously, thanks to an Active Living by Design (ALbD) grant from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and infrastructure improvements. Columbia, Mo., used its 2003 ALbD grant to foster active living by behavioral and environment change strategies.

The intervention, Bike, Walk and Wheel: A Way of Life in Columbia Missouri (BW&W), implemented Active Living by Design’s 5P model, specifically:

  • Partnerships—among community leaders and stakeholders with an interest in the long-term health of the community
  • Promotions—of the benefits of active living
  • Programs—for children and adolescents
  • Policy influences—to create a more activity-friendly environment
  • Physical projects—to make activity opportunities more accessible and attractive

To evaluate whether pedestrian and cyclist activity increased over the 3-year period (2007–2009), researchers collected data at four intersections leading into downtown Columbia. There were greater numbers of cyclists in 2009, compared to 2007 and 2008, but only during the summer. There were greater numbers of pedestrians in 2009, compared to 2007 and 2008, but only during the summer and fall.

The authors attribute the increases to the ALbD program, greater awareness of physical activity opportunities, and to a 2005 federal grant that increased infrastructure for nonmotorized transportation. Columbia, one of four communities nationwide, used the funds to build bike lanes, trails and improve intersections.