The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Transportation…and now Health and Human Services, all lining up behind sustainable transportation goals? Could this be true?
It could, and it is. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services just announced a round of grants that will help 44 communities around the country prevent chronic disease and promote wellness. The program is part of the Community Putting Prevention to Work effort, a stimulus-funded initiative. Grantees will use the money for projects ranging from increasing physical activity to reducing youth tobacco use. But the most interesting part to us was the number of projects making the connection between public health and issues like sustainable development, walking and biking, and more integrated land use and transportation planning. Here are some examples (see the full list of grantees on the HHS website, and watch the press conference announcing the winners):
- The Boston Public Health Commission plans to implement a new bike sharing program and Complete Streets policies, as well as land use policy changes that encourage community/backyard gardening.
- The Jefferson County (AL) Department of Health will support mixed-use development to improve options for safe physical activity, develop greenways to increase everyday movement and access to physical activity hot spots, and establish neighborhood walking groups in low-income communities.
- The Philadelphia Department of Public Health was funded to expand the number of farmers’ markets in low-income neighborhoods, create 1,000 “healthy corner stores” that sell fresh produce and water, and complete a citywide pedestrian and bike plan.
- Seattle and King County Department of Public Health will increase access to safe places for activity in schools and parks, support the development of healthy corner stores, and King County and its cities will include elements in master plans that promote walking and biking.
- The County of San Diego Health & Human Services Agency will integrate public health considerations with transportation and land use planning policies.
- The Miami-Dade County Health Department plans to enhance signage for bike lanes, boulevards, and walkable neighborhoods.
- Pima County, Arizona will improve residents’ access to safe, high-quality parks and recreation facilities, and foster private and community gardens, farmers markets, and food cooperatives.
- The Tri-County Health Department (Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas Counties, CO) plans to support Safe Routes to School activities; advise municipalities on city planning, zoning, and transportation efforts to promote physical activity and access to healthy foods; and establish community gardens.
- The City of Portland Health and Human Services Department will increase the number of safe, attractive, and accessible places for activity; enhance physical activity opportunities and signage in walkable/mixed-use neighborhoods and through transportation options (e.g., bike lanes/boulevards); and facilitate increased physical activity through Safe Routes to School programs.