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City of Seattle

March 21, 12:25 PM click here to comment > 1

From the 2012 Transportation Action Agenda: Building Healthy Communities

Our Transportation Action Agenda helps guide the work that we do at the City on transportation issues. There are five major categories:

1. Keeping it Safe
2. Focusing on the Basics
3. Building Healthy Communities
4. Supporting a Thriving Economy
5. Providing Great Service

Today we’re going to look at how we’re Building Healthy Communities.

Seattle Dept of Transportation Action Agenda 2012

Streets and sidewalks provide pathways to get us from point A to point B. But if we look closer, we can also see them as opportunities for making community connections, supporting active lifestyles, and contributing to vibrant neighborhoods.

A key ingredient to a great city is public space that encourages people to linger, enjoy, and connect with neighbors and strangers. The Seattle Department of Transportation sees placemaking as an essential part of sustainable, livable, and equitable growth. We are rethinking how to use the right of way and how the transportation system contributes to the overall physical feel of the city. We’re prioritizing transit, building more sidewalks, making more space available for bicycles, and creating hubs where people can connect between modes.

In addition to making streets friendlier for all travelers, we are calming neighborhood streets to increase safety, reduce vehicle speeds, and re-route auto traffic from neighborhoods onto arterial streets. We are designing neighborhood greenways that promote bike and pedestrian travel on streets with low volumes and speeds. And, we are making buses and rail a real option for many trips from our neighborhoods to major destinations. In doing so, SDOT develops streetscape designs that consider the function, form, and feel of a space and its place within the larger community.

By making it easier to ride transit and offering non-motorized options, people can choose to lead more active and environmentally sustainable lifestyles. These choices often influence our decisions around where we live, shop, go to school, work, and recreate. They can affect stress levels, finances, our sense of independence, and the time we spend with our friends and family.

Although many people wouldn’t consider it a determinant to health, the way our transportation system is planned, designed and built has far-reaching implications for our risk of obesity, diabetes and injuries. This is significant considering that over half of adult residents and 30 percent of school-aged children are overweight and obese in King County. And the prevalence of obesity among African American adults is 60% higher, which makes equity a serious concern.

We have an opportunity to provide healthy, affordable choices and create great places that encourage people to get out and enjoy the streets on foot or by bike. In doing so, we can also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, smog and soot. We can improve the health of our residents, support environmental sustainability, and bring people together in places where they want to be.

Our approach to building healthy communities includes four different policy goals:

1. Increase mobility and access for everyone
2. Make transit the efficient, affordable choice for a variety trips
3. Make healthy travel choices the easy choices
4. Activate public spaces

For each of those goals, the Transportation Action Agenda lays out specific actions the city will take and specific metrics we’ll use to measure our progress. By using these measures, we’re ensuring that there is a way to see if we’re on track.

To examine all the policy goals, actions, and the metrics that we’ll use, we invite you to take a closer look at the full Transportation Action Agenda. Our next post in the series will examine how we will be supporting a thriving economy.

Photo by: Jen Nance

Posted by: Robert Cruickshank


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Time March 22, 2012 at 7:55 am

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