OPPORTUNITIES for physical ACTIVity
Opportunities for physical activity are a cornerstone of healthy communities. Communities can help support physical activity in many ways, including making the most of opportunities for all forms of human-powered transportation – such as walking, cycling, using a wheelchair, in-line skating, or skateboarding.
This is called Active Transportation and town land use managers play a large role in increasing these opportunities.
Northeastern Connecticut, the ‘Quiet Corner’, has a wealth of places and destinations enticing for physical activity. Towns can build on this to create a healthier community.
What does your community gain from increasing opportunities for physical activity?
- A healthier population: reduced healthcare burdens
- Economic strength: associated commerce that ‘fits’ in with rural character
- Social equity: physical activity is equal opportunity – all members of the community can participate
- Community cohesion: sharing in physical activity can help residents feel they share common ground or belong in their community together
Tools to assess needs
Assess your community’s active transportation needs:
Walkability is a measure of how friendly an area is for walking. Factors that influence walkability include:
- The presence or absence of safe, good quality footpaths, sidewalks, or other walking routes
- Traffic and road conditions including wide shoulders, signage, and crosswalks
- Land use patterns - can one walk easily and safely from home to a park or to businesses or among businesses?
- Building access - do footpaths and sidewalks connect safely and logically to building entrances for any traveler?
Learn about your town’s Walkability score at: https://www.walkscore.com/
Visit these resources to understand how to manage land that fosters walkability.
- Joshua's Trust - N.E. Connecticut's largest land trust.
- Town of Mansfield, CT Trail Guide
- Town of Groton Walking Trails Guide
- Pioneer Valley Trail Guide
- Massachusetts Trail Design Guidelines
- Doylestown, PA Bicycle and Pedestrian Information Center
- Doylestown, PA Bike/Walk Trails Resources
- NPS and CDC Trail Development Guide
Prepare a Sidewalk Network Plan
Understand Supportive Connecticut Law
Leverage DOT Tools & Resources
Adopt Pedestrian Overlay Districts
Adopt Sidewalk Design Guidelines
communities in particular this tends to be less about bicycle lanes on a road and more so about off-road bike paths, good signage and good, safe roadway shoulder conditions.How friendly is your area for bicycling? These resources provide guidance on how to foster bikeability in your community.
Bikeability is a measure of how friendly a town/region is for those who want to bicycle. It refers to the infrastructure, such as bike lanes or paths, that exist along with other helpful things such as directional signs to support and promote bicycling.
Geography plays a large part of bikeability, and for rural
Prepare a Bicycle Network Plan
- Sharon, MA Lake Massapoag Bicycle Network Plan
- Quincy, MA Bicycle and Pedestrian Network Plan
- Hanover, NH Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan
- Boulder, CO Bicycle System Master Plan
Require Bicycle Access & Parking
Connectivity refers to the links between different parts of a town to provide access and easy travel from one area to another. It means laying out infrastructure (roads, sidewalks, off-road paths, bike lanes) in such a way that all areas of the community are linked for maximum benefit of everyone.
Resources to help manage land to foster connectivity include:
Adopt Complete Streets Policies
Complete Streets are streets for everyone. They are designed to be safe and easy to use by pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers, and transit riders of all ages and abilities.
Engage in Placemaking
Placemaking is a creative approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces. The goal is to create open public spaces everywhere that promote people's health, happiness, and well-being.
A local wayfinding program can be an inexpensive means of improving the travel experience for both residents and visitors by helping them easily know distances among places, directions to them, and travel times.
Wayfinding is a community’s collection of signs, maps, and other methods used to inform people of the location of their destinations and directions to get there. It is an effective “lighter, quicker, cheaper” tool to promote a culture of walking and biking within a community or across a region.
Playability refers to opportunities for play in all possible spaces. This is done by fostering activity, discovery, and creativity in unexpected or unconventional town spaces. How well does your community provide opportunities for indoor and outdoor play? Ways to manage land to foster playability include:
Require Open Spaces
- Adams County, PA Model Ordinance for Public Dedication
- Model Instruments for Land & Easement Acquisition
Develop Playability or Recreation Programs
Photo credit, banner: Transportation for America