Creating Built Environments That Expand Active Transportation and Active Living Across the United States

WashU affiliated authors: Amy Eyler, Dept. of Public Health-Social Work

Abstract: Physical activity is vital for the health and well-being of youth and adults, although the prevalence of physical activity continues to be low. Promoting active transportation or human-powered transportation through policy, systems, and environmental change is one of the leading evidence-based strategies to increase physical activity regardless of age, income, racial/ethnic background, ability, or disability. Initiatives often require coordination across federal, state, and local agencies. To maximize the effectiveness of all types of interventions, it is imperative to establish strong and broad partnerships across professional disciplines, community members, and advocacy groups. Health organizations can play important roles in facilitating these partnerships. This policy statement provides recommendations and resources that can improve transportation systems, enhance land use design, and provide education to support policies and environments to promote active travel. The American Heart Association supports safe, equitable active transportation policies in communities across the country that incorporate consistent implementation evaluation. Ultimately, to promote large increases in active transportation, policies need to be created, enforced, and funded across multiple sectors in a coordinated and equitable fashion. Active transportation policies should operate at 3 levels: the macroscale of land use, the mesoscale of pedestrian and bicycle networks and infrastructure such as Complete Streets policies and Safe Routes to School initiatives, and the microscale of design interventions and placemaking such as building orientation and access, street furnishings, and safety and traffic calming measures. Health professionals and organizations are encouraged to become involved in advocating for active transportation policies at all levels of government.

Citation: Young DR, Cradock AL, Eyler AA, Fenton M, Pedroso M, Sallis JF, Whitsel LP; on behalf of the American Heart Association Advocacy Coordinating Committee. Creating built environments that expand active transportation and active living across the United States: a policy statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2020;142:e000–e000. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000878.