We all agree that people who drive, walk, run, bike or ride a bus or train should all get to enjoy roads and paths designed to safely accommodate their travel. Luckily, cities across the nation, including many in Alabama, have begun working toward making our streets safer and more convenient for everyone, no matter how they get around town, through implementing Complete Streets policies.
“Complete Streets” is a term describing roads that allow safe and convenient travel for everyone who uses them and for all modes of transportation. These streets have street crossings, accessible sidewalks and bicycle lanes that make it easy to walk to shops, bike to work, or cross the street to and from a bus stop.
Complete streets are safe, people-friendly and support good health by making it easier and safer for people to be physically active while going around town. Complete streets design may offer many benefits to cities, including:
- Fewer crashes and traffic injuries
- Improved visibility of people walking and bicycling
- Improved air quality
- Improved friendliness of the street environment for walking, bicycling, shopping, waiting for the bus, chatting with neighbors or playing
- Improved connectivity among neighbors
- Increased visibility for local business owners
In Birmingham, the American Heart Association is working with organizations to pass a Complete Streets policy aimed to create a safe transportation network for everyone by requiring that every future road construction and reconstruction project makes a street safe and comfortable for all users — kids, families, older adults or people with disabilities — whether they are walking, pushing a stroller, using a wheelchair, riding a bike, driving a car or taking public transportation.
Street-scale improvements, such as sidewalks, bike lanes and safe street crossings, also provide more opportunities to be physically active. Engaging in daily physical activity reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes and some types of cancer.
Increasing the opportunities to add physical activity into our daily routines also helps kids stay focused and do better in school. In fact, studies show that people who live in walkable neighborhoods generally get more physical activity each week and have a lower risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and certain cancers than those who live in neighborhoods that are less walkable. At a time when 75% of teens do not get enough physical activity, this is something we can all get behind.
If you live in Birmingham, stay tuned for how you can get engaged in the campaign!