Glossary of Healthy-Community Terms

The following is a expandable list of terms that will be helpful to local governments, stakeholders, and residents in understanding what makes a "Healthy Delaware."

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Accessible:  Accessible facilities are those that can be reached, used, and traversed by people of all ages and abilities without difficulty.

Active Transportation:  Also known as Non-Motorized Transportation and Human-Powered Transportation, includes walking, bicycling, small-wheeled transport (skates, skateboards, push scooters and hand carts) and wheelchair travel (Victoria Transportation Policy Institute).

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA):  The legislation defining the responsibilities of and requirements for transportation providers to make transportation accessible to individuals with disabilities (FHWA).

Assistive Mobility Devices:  Any device designed or adapted to help people with physical limitations to perform actions, tasks, and activities (e.g. wheelchairs, crutches, or canes).

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Bicycle Facilities:  Facilities designed to accommodate bicycle travel for recreational or commuting purposes. Bikeways are not necessarily separated facilities (such as off-road paths), but may be designed to be shared and operated along with other travel modes (such as painted on-road bike lanes or sufficiently wide shoulders with bicycle signage).

Buffer:  The area between the outside edge of the roadway and the roadside edge of the sidewalk or pedestrian facility that provides a space between pedestrian traffic and motorized traffic; this buffer can contain paved areas, grassy areas, or trees.

Built Environment:  The human-made surroundings that provide the setting for human activity, production, and consumption. The built environment consists of houses, office buildings, roads, and entire cities.

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Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA):  A system in which consumers receive food directly from the farmers who produce it, through the purchase of shares in advance of harvest. Consumers share in the risk of the crop with farmers, and receive weekly fresh produce throughout the growing season (USDA  -

Complete Streets:  Complete Streets are streets designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities must be able to safely move along and across a “complete” street (National Complete Streets Coalition).

Comprehensive Plan:  A document containing text and maps that lays out a municipality’s general development strategy, position on population growth, infrastructure needs, and community issues, among other topics.  In Delaware all towns are required to develop land-use plans, and towns with a population of over 2,000 are required to develop and adopt a Comprehensive Plan.

Connectivity:  A measure of how well transportation facilities (such as roads and sidewalks) are connected to each other and to important destinations.

Continuity:  A measure of the proportion of a transportation facility that is uninterrupted.  For example, a sidewalk that runs along a roadway for 500 feet, disappears for 200 feet, and then starts again would be a discontinuous sidewalk with low continuity.

Cotinine: a biomarker for tobacco smoke, found in the bloodstream. (CDC)

Crosswalk:  Also known as a pedestrian crossing, a crosswalk is a point on a roadway that employs some means of assisting pedestrians or other non-motorized transportation modes to safely cross the road.  Crosswalks usually consist of some combination of on-road paint, a crossing signal for pedestrians, and signage warning motorists of the presence of pedestrians.  Crosswalks are most commonly located at signalized intersections but can be located anywhere along a roadway.

Curb Cut:  Also known as a Curb Ramp, a curb cut is a short ramp installed where a sidewalk meets a road to create a smooth transition between the two surfaces rather than a steep drop of several inches.  Curb cuts are especially essentially for sidewalk users such as bicyclists, pedestrians with limited mobility, and those using wheelchairs or strollers.

“Cyber-crop” and “Cyber-shop” programs:  Websites through which consumers are able to purchase local, seasonal produce while helping farmers better understand supply and demand.

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Density/Compact Development:  Density refers to the amount of dwellings or other buildings per acre in a particular area of development.  Higher density, or compact, developments, allow for a greater amount of activity to occur on a smaller amount of land, thus conserving open spaces and natural resources.  Compact development also creates a situation in which origins and destinations, such as homes and places of work, are located closer to each other, allowing for more active forms of transportation.

Downtown:  Also referred to as the Central Business District, is the portion of a town that serves as the commercial and cultural “center” of activity; it can also refer to the geographical origins of a town.

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Farmers’ Market:  A group of farmers and vendors retailing various food products and plants.

Food Desert:  A community, particularly lower-income neighborhoods, where residents have low or limited access to fresh, affordable, and nutritious food (USDA -

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Greenway:  A corridor of undeveloped land, usually including some kind of trail or pathway that is provided for recreational purposes and/or environmental protection.

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Health-Impact Assessment (HIA): An approach to designing and planning communities that minimizes health risks and helps craft policies to improve wellness.  HIA brings together scientific evidence, health expertise, and public input to make better decisions today to prevent health problems in their communities tomorrow.

Healthy Community:  A neighborhood, town, or other area that promotes the physical, mental, and emotional health of its citizens through the designs and practices of the places and organizations that touch people’s lives every day.  These include schools, work sites, healthcare sites, parks, the built environment, and other community settings.  Healthy communities provide their citizens with opportunities for healthy lifestyles through various policies, urban designs, food options, exercise facilities, etc.

Healthy People 2020: a set of goals and objectives released every ten years by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to guide national health promotion and disease prevention. (

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Land Use:  Refers to the division and usage of natural land for various human purposes.  In planning terms, land use usually refers to the designation of land space for discrete purposes, through ordinances or zoning codes, such as commercial, residential, or industrial development.  Land use can also connote the physical quantity of land that is consumed for human purposes, rather than left as wilderness.

Livable:  Refers to the suitability of a place (town, city, or neighborhood) to support a high quality of life that contributes to the health and happiness of its residents.

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Mixed-Use Development:  Mixed-use developments counter the post–World War II practice of physically separated land uses by providing areas where residences, commercial buildings, and businesses are located within close proximity to each other.  Examples of true mixed-use areas are found in the downtown areas of large cities such as New York and Philadelphia, where restaurants, offices, and residences are often located in the same building.

Mobility:  The ability to move or be moved from place to place (FHWA).

Multimodal:  The availability of transportation options using various modes (such as automobile, bicycle, and pedestrian) within a system or corridor (FHWA).

Multi-use Path:  An off-road path, paved or unpaved, intended for use by pedestrians, bicyclists, joggers, skaters, and others for recreational or transportation purposes.

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Neighborhood:  A geographical area that is a subset of a larger town or city, usually defined by shared social or architectural features that set it apart from adjacent areas.

New Urbanism:  A movement that recognizes walkable, human-scaled neighborhoods as the building blocks of sustainable communities and regions.  New Urbanism stresses the importance of street patterns, transportation options, and building siting in creating sustainable communities (Congress for New Urbanism).

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Obese:  An adult who has a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher is considered obese. This range of weight is greater than what is generally considered healthy for a given height.

Overweight:  An adult who has a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight. This range of weight is greater than what is generally considered healthy for a given height.

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Parks and Open Spaces:  Parcels of land set aside for recreational use and/or environmental resource protection.  These areas can be publicly or privately owned, and development on the site is usually unauthorized.

Paved Trail:  A relatively smooth path covered with paving material such as asphalt, concrete, or macadam.  Paved trails can include off-road paths, such as greenway trails, as well as sidewalks alongside a roadway.

Pedestrian-Scale (or Human-Scale) Design:  Encompasses a number of design strategies that enhance a pedestrian’s experience of the built environment.  Pedestrian-scaled design includes designing roadways, buildings, signage, and parking lots for the convenience and comfort of pedestrians as well as motorists.  Examples include lighting on sidewalks, parking lots located behind or to the side of buildings, attractive storefronts, and way-finding signs intended to guide people who are traveling on foot rather than in automobiles.

Pedestrian Facilities:  Includes roadside sidewalks, trails, and paved or unpaved off-road trails.
Pedestrian Network: A continuous sidewalk or pedestrian-facility system that allows pedestrians to make uninterrupted trips and accommodates stroller or wheelchair users to utilize the sidewalks (Kansas City Walkability Plan).

Pedestrian Signals:  Electronic signals placed at pedestrian-crossing locations intended to notify pedestrians when it is safe to cross the street.  Pedestrian signals can also be programmed to provide an exclusive pedestrian phase at signalized intersections, whereby all automobile traffic is given a red light and only pedestrian crossing movement is allowed.

Placemaking:  The process of creating unique spaces—such as plazas, squares, streets, and waterfronts—that are attractive to people because they are pleasurable or interesting.

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Right of Way:  A general term denoting land, property, or interest therein, usually in a strip, acquired for or devoted to transportation purposes (FHWA).

Rooftop Gardening:  A type of urban agriculture in which plants are grown on the top of a building for food, temperature control, hydrological, architectural, wildlife habitat, and recreation purposes.

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Safe Routes to School:  A federally funded and state-administered program that encourages local schools and jurisdictions to undertake projects that will encourage children to walk or bicycle to school and to make such trips safer.

Secondhand Smoke: a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar, and the smoke exhaled by smokers; also called Environmental Tobacco Smoke. (U.S. EPA)

Sidewalk:  A paved walkway along the side of a street; also the portion of a right-of-way intended for pedestrian use.

Smart Growth:  Land-use development practices that create more resource-efficient and livable communities, with more accessible land-use patterns; an alternative to sprawl (Victoria Transportation Policy Institute).

Smokeless Tobacco Products: There are two main types of smokeless tobacco used in the U.S., chewing tobacco and snuff. Chewing tobacco comes in loose leaf, plug and twist form. Snuff is finely ground tobacco that can be dry, moist, or in bag-like pouches. New products, such as snus, are being developed to dissolve in the mouth.  Smokeless tobacco causes significant health risks and is not a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes. (American Lung Association)

Sprawl:  Dispersed, low-density, single-use, and automobile-dependent land-use patterns (Victoria Transportation Policy Institute).

Streetscaping:  Changes to the street and surrounding areas intended to improve the experience of pedestrians and others using the area; streetscaping improvements can include changes to the road cross-section, traffic management, sidewalk conditions, landscaping, street furniture, and building fronts.  Common streetscaping improvements include pedestrian-scaled lighting, benches, and street trees (Victoria Transportation Policy Institute).

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Threshold Analysis: One type of Health-Impact Assessment (HIA) that allows communities to assess the effect that proposed planning and health projects may have on health-related indicators.  

Thresholds: Benchmarks for healthy development that can be mapped using GIS tools.

Tobacco Control: A field of public health science, policy and practice dedicated to restricting the growth of tobacco use and thereby reducing the morbidity and mortality it causes. (Wikipedia)

Tobacco-Free Zone: A policy instrument designating a specified area or path as one in which smoking is prohibited, usually demarcated by signs.

Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND):  A planning concept based on traditional neighborhood and city design practices.   TNDs are neighborhoods where residential, commercial, and civic buildings are within close proximity to one another (Wisconsin Model TND Ordinance).

Traffic Calming:  A way to design streets using engineering principles to encourage people to drive more slowly. Traffic calming involves physical and visual cues that induce drivers to travel at appropriate speeds (Kansas City Walkability Plan).

Traffic Signals:  Electronic signaling devices located at road intersections to control competing flows of traffic.

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Universal Design:  Transportation systems designed to accommodate a wide range of users, including people with disabilities and other special needs (Victoria Transportation Policy Institute).

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Walk Score:  Walk Score is a number between 0 and 100 that measures the walkability of any address (with 0 being least walkable and 100 being most walkable). It is based on an algorithm that ranks communities nationwide based on an area’s number of common destinations (business, restaurants, parks, schools) within walking distance of any given starting point (

Walkability: Walkability is often measured according to the environmental, health, financial, and safety benefits offered to pedestrians within a community.  More broadly, walkability is a measure of how conducive an environment is to walking (