photo of planners discussing issues in TownsendMaking Walkability a Public Policy Agenda in Municipalities

Before the era of suburbanization, America’s towns were pedestrian-oriented and characterized by a strong sense of place and community.  Older, traditional towns comprised thriving urban centers and diverse residential neighborhoods that were surrounded by scenic, rural countryside.  Built on a human scale, traditional towns were dense and compact—people could easily walk from their homes to stores, schools, places of business, and jobs. 

Walkable urbanism all but ended with the advent of post World War II suburbia.  Construction of superhighways promoted sprawling land-use and development patterns that were designed with automobile travel in mind.  One dire consequence of suburban sprawl is America’s expanding waistline.  A neglect of community-design principles, lack of walkable infrastructure, and compartmentalized built environments has led to less active lifestyles and a greater incidence of chronic obesity and related diseases. 

Studies reveal the need to design pedestrian- and transit-friendly communities to provide built-environment improvements, opportunities for active lifestyles, and alternative modes of travel.  Policy changes, both at the local and state level, are recommended to foster active community environments, smarter growth (including social, economic, and environmental sustainability), and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure and design.

This section examines how local government can address the need for a more walkable community through its public policy fabric. A “best practices” approach for incorporating the walkability agenda into municipal planning, policy, and law can be developed by taking a look at comprehensive plans and town ordinances throughout Delaware.

"Exercise by Accident” video segment of WHYY TV's April 6, 2012, weekly show "First"

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