Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

August 2018

States Make Progress Toward Active Transportation

By Deborah L. Vence

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership and the Y have teamed up to update state report cards that highlight how states are investing transportation dollars, committing resources and establishing policies to support walkable communities.

"Making Strides: 2018 State Report Cards on Support for Walking, Bicycling, and Active Kids and Communities" is an update of a 2016 report compiled by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership for YMCA of the USA. It was funded through a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to support the U.S. Surgeon General's call to action to make walkable communities a priority in order to help address rising rates of chronic disease across the nation.

According to the CDC, physical inactivity is a main contributor to obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke. Active modes of transportation such as walking, bicycling and wheelchair rolling are ways that people can incorporate physical activity into their daily lives. States that invest in walkable communities can increase access to safe active transportation that enables people to be healthier and more connected.

The rankings show that there is opportunity for states to enact new, health-promoting, evidence-based policies—and strengthen existing ones that will benefit communities. The report indicated that a majority of states rank in the middle categories of "Warming Up" and "Making Strides," with three states ranking as "Lacing Up," the lowest category. Two states—Washington and California—ranked in the highest category, "Building Speed."

Each state was evaluated using 27 indicators, with several new indicators including: adopted a bicycle, pedestrian, or active transportation plan; supports walking, bicycling and physical activity in school design guidelines; and funds Safe Routes to School non-infrastructure projects. These indicators were then applied across four strategic areas:

  • Complete streets and active transportation
  • Safe routes to school and active transportation funding
  • Active neighborhoods and schools
  • State physical activity planning

"In just two years, many states have made considerable progress in their support for walking, biking and physical activity," stated Cass Isidro, executive director of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership. "Nearly twice as many states are providing state dollars for Safe Routes to School programs, and more states are providing funding for shared use and hiring dedicated staff for physical activity. That's great progress, but there are still many opportunities for states to strengthen their support for healthy, accessible communities. Advocates and practitioners can use these report cards to help make the case for increased funding and support for programs that improve health and well-being for our communities."

The report also includes an overview of the research that supports walking, bicycling and physical activity as ways to improve health; rationale for state-level report cards; a detailed explanation of how the states were graded; newly updated maps; reflection upon overall trends; and a new examination of bicycle and pedestrian planning.

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is a nonprofit organization that improves the quality of life for kids and communities by promoting active, healthy lifestyles and safe infrastructure that supports bicycling and walking.

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