Active Transportation refers to walking, biking or using transit that requires physical activity, such as taking the subway. Investments to increase active transportation (e.g. sidewalks, better roads, and transit) help decrease air pollution and greenhouse gasses contributing to climate change, and thus address many environmental challenges and benefit overall community health. In addition to creating more active environments, investments in active transportation infrastructure help improve spatial equity—while improving safety, accessibility, and mobility for all. Active transportation affects people’s quality of life, increases economic opportunities for community members, and enhances public resources. People who use active transportation are more physically fit and have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, compared to people who only use motorized transportation. Although active transportation works for all kinds of communities, it is not always an option for everyone. Urban residents are more likely to have access to active transportation activities than rural residents.
Due to its many health benefits, increasing active transportation is an important opportunity to increase community well-being. Since inadequate infrastructure in minority and low-income communities often prevents people from using active transportation; these communities could benefit more from investments in active transportation.. Equity considerations in active transportation planning in the United States are under-researched. To enable people to access and benefit from active transportation, equity must be prioritized in planning processes. Engaging those with live experience in a given community, and analysis of race, gender, age, and income in disadvantaged communities would be helpful in identifying disparities in active transportation access and use.
Investing in pedestrian facilities, bike lanes, parks, and walkable sidewalks creates opportunities for people to exercise. Prioritizing infrastructure improvements and providing safe roadway crossing for pedestrians will help change at scale. Small block sizes, pedestrian refuge islands and crow-walks are community-based change efforts that can help increase active transportation. Increasing active transportation among residents contributes to increased overall community well-being.