As in most cities, the streets of Birmingham have been designed primarily for cars. But what about pedestrians and bicycles? There’s a significant movement afoot to incorporate sidewalks, bike lanes and more into the planning of streets and revitalization of neighborhoods. And the benefits of doing so can be far-reaching – especially with respect to a number of health metrics tracked and impacted by the Bold Goals Coalition’s Healthy Communities initiative.
Through the Health Action Partnership of Jefferson County, dozens of organizations, including Bold Goals, are working together on an initiative called Complete Streets Birmingham. Complete Streets is focused on developing policies that ensure city streets allowfor safe, convenient, accessible travel via sidewalks, bike lanes, curb cuts and designated bus lanes to support a more efficient transit system.
While the overarching goal of Complete Streets is to create more well-connected, user-friendly neighborhoods for everyone, regardless of age, ability or mode of travel, a significant by-product of Complete Streets is the promotion of healthier living. Research shows that people are more likely to meet recommended physical activity levels if they have safe places to walk close to home; and people are 65% more likely to walk in a neighborhood with sidewalks. Simply stated, our environment and the opportunities for exercise around us influence how physically active we are, and can therefore impact our overall health.
Complete Streets partners recently appeared on Fox 6’s “Good Day Alabama” to discuss the health, safety and economic benefits of Complete Streets. A full-day workshop for local stakeholders, to be led by Smart Growth America, a national leader in creating healthy and economically vibrant cities, is scheduled for October.
Click here to learn more about Complete Streets Birmingham, and to stay informed about work being done to make our streets safer and our communities healthier for everyone.