Bike, Walk, and Wheel

A Way of Life in Columbia, Missouri

An Active Living by Design (ALbD) grant to Columbia, Missouri, capitalized on the success of a local event to foster the emergence of an active living community. In four years, Columbia’s Walking School Bus (WSB) program grew from 30 children to 400.

In 2001, Columbia held its first annual Mayor’s Challenge: Bike, Walk, and Wheel Week. The event included group walks and bike rides, bike safety classes, and free breakfasts for walkers, bikers, and wheelers. The Mayor’s Challenge raised awareness about active living and helped residents find alternatives to driving.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) established an Active Living by Design partnership in Columbia in 2003. The lead agency was the PedNet Coalition, a grassroots organization that promotes active forms of transportation. The partnership, Bike, Walk, and Wheel: A Way of Life in Columbia, included the mayor, city council members, parks and recreation and police departments. The partnership adapted the ALbD community action model, the 5Ps, by using preparation and programs to drive policy and physical projects.

Key Findings:

  • Participation in Bike, Walk, and Wheel Week grew from 750 to 4,750 over the course of the ALbD funding period.
  • Columbia’s ALbD project garnered national exposure and Columbia received a $22 million federal transportation grant.
  • A three-year campaign resulted in a city ordinance requiring five-foot sidewalks on all streets and mixed-use paths, and space for bicycles on major roads.

RWJF established the Active Living by Design national grant program in 2001. After a review of more than 900 proposals, ALbD formed partnerships with 25 community organizations. Each ALbD partnership received five years of funding in the amount of $200,000.