Communities Can Encourage More Bike Riding and Walking to Improve Physical Fitness

The National Center for Bicycling & Walking developed and published a guidebook entitled Increasing Physical Activity Through Community Design: A Guide for Public Health Practitioners.

An advocate for more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly communities since 1977, the nonprofit center, a program of the Bicycle Federation of America, has received several grants from RWJF to promote more physically active communities.

Originally this project aimed to create a guide for public health agencies and professionals to access underutilized funding available under the federal Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century. The focus broadened to include more descriptions of transportation projects that encourage biking and walking and to provide information on diverse funding sources, not just federal transportation funds.

Key Results

The 47-page guide includes:

  • Background discussion of how poor community design has contributed to physical inactivity and epidemic rates of obesity by promoting primarily automobile use.
  • Suggestions about how to create active community environments by improving conditions for bicycling and walking, such as adding and improving sidewalks, safe and convenient street crossings, bicycle-friendly streets and trails, and safe routes to schools.
  • Information about accessing funds such as the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, state and local road projects and revenue sources and private donations.
  • References (and online links) to land-use planning and community design resources and transportation data to help public health agencies begin improvement projects.