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CDC Transportation-Health Recommendations: Safe Access to Parks

A car-free road in Piedmont Park. (Source: Piedmont Park Conservancy)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) late last month released recommendations for improving public health through transportation policy, saying that a concentration on motor vehicles has created an environment where physical activity is discouraged, air quality is poor and pedestrian deaths are all too likely.

The report recommends that actions be taken to:

  • Reduce injuries, deaths and crashes through better traffic safety laws and increased funding for education and technologies;
  • Improve air quality through actions that reduce air pollution by vehicles and reduce vehicle miles traveled;
  • Expand public transportation through increased funding and policies that encourage transit ridership.
  • Promote active transportation by creating safe streets on which to walk and bike to destinations;
  • Encourage healthy community design elements such as more zoning/land use policies that work synergystically with transit, walking and biking;
  • Design roads to minimize auto speeds and increase pedestrian and bicyclist safety; and
  • Increase data collection and research on the transportation and health connection.

The report contains several specific recommendations on providing more off-street bike trails and non-motorized transport routes that may relate to park systems in cities.

There’s also a call for nearby and accessible parks. The CDC notes that “safe and convenient pedestrian and bicycling connections to public park and recreation areas” should be promoted, and that assistance should be provided “to local planners to design and locate destinations for children (such as schools, parks and libraries) within neighborhoods so that children can reach destinations without having to cross busy streets.”

The CDC’s recommendations are another welcome sign that the country is thinking differently about how we build our communities to support the health and safety of residents — and it is good to see parks and trails in this picture. After all, no one will use a park if they can’t get to one safely.

(Thanks to Elana Schor at Streetsblog for bringing this to our attention.)

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