Where we live matters greatly to our health. In fact, it is one of the most powerful predictors of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease; diseases that are affected by the food we eat and how active we are. This is because where we live impacts our ability to make healthy decisions.
Healthy Community Design focuses on making our communities places where walking and biking are easier, and where being physically active is a natural part of the day. Implementing Healthy Community Design encourages and supports residents of all ages to move more and live healthier lifestyles.
- Designing healthy communities puts health at the center of community planning, transportation, and land-use decisions, so that people can easily walk or bike to schools, recreation areas, food stores and businesses.
Healthy Community Design Tactics
- Conducting Health Impact Assessments (HIAs) to understand how community projects, plans, or policies can affect us and our health
- Following “Complete Streets” policies that make roads safe and enjoyable for all users by installing safe bike lanes, bike racks, easy-to-follow signage, sidewalks, and safe crosswalks
- Using land zoning and planning to shorten distances between places where people live, work and access healthy food and services, and to limit unhealthy food sites and provide incentives for stores with healthy options.
- Making sure that affordable housing is located near mass transit and other forms of transportation reduce our use of cars
- Preserving open space and develop recreational space and community centers where people can gather and socialize
- Building better access to green space and parks
- Creating community gardens and farmers markets to improve access to healthy fresh food
Complete Streets Policy
Communities across the state are joining a movement to complete the streets. Cities and towns are asking their planners and engineers to build road networks that are safer, more livable, and welcoming to everyone.
Implementing a Complete Streets policy ensures that transportation planners and engineers design and operate the entire roadway with all users in mind – including bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and riders, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.
Complete Streets policies improve safety, lower transportation costs, provide alternatives to private cars, encourage health through walking and biking, improve social interaction, and generally improve property values.
For more information on Complete Streets, visit The National Complete Streets Coalition.
For more information on Healthy Community Design, visit www.mass.gov/healthycommunitydesign.
This information is provided by the Department of Public Health.