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Incorporating "Health" into Planning

This section of WhatWorks presents examples of comprehensive plans and active/master transportation plans that incorporate health, as well as resources that provide guidance for incorporating health into such plans. Each plan or related resource has been shown to result in success for its respective community or is deemed useful to those considering the incorporation of public health and/or physical activity into their plans.

A Comprehensive plan is defined as a long-term plan -- an official statement of government policy -- that includes a vision and strategies for the physical development of a community, whether it is a county or city. It sets a broad policy framework within which governments work to carryout strategies and capital investments.

A Master Transportation plan—usually included as a component of comprehensive plans or a standalone document -- inventories existing transportation systems, forecasts population and employment growth, identifies and analyzes transportation needs and the impact of improvements and designates a funding-constrained list of projects for a specified period.

A Pedestrian/Bicycle or Active Transportation plan provides an overview of the walking and biking transportation network and identifies improvements that will enhance and encourage walking and biking throughout a community.

NOTE: By no means is the following intended to be all-inclusive nor serve as a regulatory function.

Comprehensive Plans

Active Living Plan – Appendix A of the 2030 Comprehensive Plan

This is an example of how a city has formally integrated an Active Living Plan into its 2030 Comprehensive Plan. Note that the city of Rosemount, Minnesota has defined active living as a way of life that integrates physical activity into daily routines. The Plan examines the connections between the built environment (land use, transportation, parks and recreation) and its impact on public health. While, the three components of the built environment are addressed in detail in their own chapters of the Comprehensive Plan, the purpose of this section is to coordinate goals and policies from the Land Use, Transportation and Parks Chapters to implement the City’s active living vision.

Source: City of Rosemount; Rosemount City Council; Rosemount Planning Commission

Fort Worth - 2018 Comprehensive Plan
The Fort Worth Plan has a goal to enhance the multimodal circulation network in which visitors, workers and residents may conveniently walk, drive, bike, or ride mass transit to destinations. It has an entire section entitled Public Health, including factors/data influencing health -- including, obesity and related chronic diseases.

Source: Fort Worth City Council and City Plan Commission

A General Plan for Nashville and Davidson County - Volume V: Access Nashville 2040
Access Nashville is a comprehensive framework for the city’s multimodal transportation network, and it provides a coordinated roadmap for the development of the entire transportation network over the next 25 years. It provides a set of Accessibility Principles, Implementation Strategies, Strategic Initiatives, and a shared Evaluation Framework that allow agencies to collaborate and coordinate around the community’s desired transportation vision.

Source: Nashville Planning Commission

City of Portland,Oregon: 2035 Comprehensive Plan
The 2035 Comprehensive Plan demonstrates the commitment to linking land use and transportation decisions. It expands the reasons for, and approaches to, improving Portland as a place that is walkable, bike-able and transit-friendly with active main streets. The Plan continues Portland's commitment to compact development, with active employment centers, expanded housing choice, and access to parks and open space.

Source: The Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

West Palm Beach, Florida: Comprehensive Plan – Transportation Element
The Transportation Element identifies the major priorities the City needs to address in order to ensure the development of a transportation system that increases the quality of life for its residents and visitors while providing for a variety of transportation choices that help reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) and greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, it provides the policy basis for the traffic-calming improvements by identifying a number of traffic-calming efforts, including: vertical changes in the street (e.g., speed humps, speed tables, raised intersections), lateral changes in the street (e.g., chicanes, offset intersections, lateral shifts), constrictions (e.g., narrowings, pinch points, islands), narrow pavement widths (e.g., medians, edge treatments), entrance features, traffic circles, and small corner radii and related streetscapes (e.g., surface textures, edge treatments and colors, landscaping, street trees and furniture).

Source: Design for Health, the City of West Palm Beach

Active/Master Transportation Plans

Seattle Pedestrian Master Plan

The Seattle Pedestrian Master Plan is a long-term action plan toward making Seattle the most walkable city in the nation. The plan establishes the policies, programs, design criteria, and projects that will further enhance pedestrian safety, comfort, and access in all of Seattle's neighborhoods. It has specified a "health goal" of promoting walking to improve health and prevent diseases and measures: self-reported physical activity and the number of children walking or biking to or from school. A detailed implementation matrix reflects the full list of actions that address the plan's focus on programs and policies. The following Implementation Plan document describes the work currently being undertaken to implement this Master Plan over the next five years.

Source: City of Seattle

Seattle Pedestrian Master Plan: 2018-2022 Implementation Plan and Progress Report

The Implementation Plan addresses improvements to the pedestrian environment in Seattle and identifies projects and programs that will aid in achieving the vision of the Pedestrian Master Plan over the next five years. The Implementation Plan will be utilized/updated each year to provide an annual list of potential projects, serve as an accountability and reporting tool, and guide future budget requests.

Philadelphia Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan

In 2012, the Philadelphia City Commission published a Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan that offers a framework for pedestrian and bicycle planning, development and maintenance. The Plan has a goal of encouraging biking and walking to promote healthy, active living with specific corresponding measures. This Plan provides the foundation for districts throughout Philadelphia to utilize in the development of their own plans.

Source: Philadelphia City Commission

Central Chester County: Bicycle and Pedestrian Circulation Plan 2013
The Central Chester County's Bicycle and Pedestrian Circulation Plan establishes a timeline (immediate, short-term, long-term, and ongoing goals) for developing pedestrian, bicycle, and public transportation facilities to serve the municipalities of Chester County, PA. The long-term vision for the plan is to foster healthy, vibrant and economically viable communities that facilitate and encourage more walking and biking.

Source: Chester County Planning Commission and Chester County Health Department

Salt Lake City Pedestrian & Bike Plan

Building off the original Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan from 2004, the 2015 plan leads Salt Lake City boldly into a new era where people of all ages and abilities can comfortably travel on foot or by bike. The plan outlines goals and objectives, proposes a 20-year build-out of bicycle facilities, and recommends changes to City processes and non-infrastructure programs.

Source: Alta Planning + Design

Bike Montco: The Bicycle Plan for Montgomery County

Bike Montco provides a vision of a safe and efficient bicycle network for everyone. This county-level plan is based on countywide mobility needs and can serve as a framework for other municipalities as they pursue bicycle planning for their resepctive communities. Bike Montco is based on six themes that serve as the basis for the recommendations found within the plan. These themes include: connected communities, equity, safety, education and enforcement, vibrant economy, and health and environmental sustainability.          

Non-Motorized Transportation Plan: West Earl Township, Lancaster County

The primary objective of this plan is to provide opportunities for people to be more physically active, for children to walk or bike to school, for people to commute to work without their cars, and to connect local communities and destinations. This Plan was developed with funds from WalkWorks during its inauguration of a grant program aimed to assist municipalities with active transportation plans and policies.

Seattle Bicycle Master Plan

The Seattle Bicycle Master Plan (BMP) aims to encourage and accommodate more people to ride a bicycle. The BMP identifies projects and programs to be implemented from 2014 to 2033 to achieve the vision and meet the plan’s goals for safety, ridership, equity, connectivity and livability. These goals set the basis for the plan’s performance measures and frame the prioritization criteria that help define which projects should be built first.

Seattle Bicycle Master Plan: 2017-2021 Implementation Plan

This Implementation Plan identifies projects and programs that, combined with existing facilities, will help to achieve that which is setforth in the Bicycle Master Plan.

The Saint Paul Pedestrian Plan (2018)

The Saint Paul Pedestrian Plan, an addendum to the St. Paul Comprehensive Plan, addresses citywide walking needs such as connecting the sidewalk system, providing safer ways to cross streets and education and enforcement programs to support safe walking. Note: At the time of this posting, this Plan remains a draft.

Walk Montco: Montgomery County Walkability Study

This study was developed to address walking issues and the Montgomery County Comprehensive Plan’s goals. The Walkability Study provides guidelines and case studies that address walkability.

2035 Nashville Area Regional Transportation Plan

The Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) adopted an Active Transportation Funding Policy in its 2035 Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). This policy directs at least 15% of Urban Surface Transportation Program funding toward active transportation projects. The MPO developed a systematic approach to rating transportation proposals, giving priority for active transport and projects that address transportation needs in high disparity areas. The MPO utilized multiple data sources to identify and prioritize communities in greatest need with the goal of increased physical activity and identified health as a criterion for project selection. An evaluation of the process identified inclusion of health organizations, from the state and local levels, as a key to the success of the 2035 RTP.

Source: Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization

Based on its just completed “bike-ped audit,” Jersey Shore Borough sought to develop a comprehensive active transportation plan to address the hazards identified in the audit and to help raise awareness about the importance of bicycle and pedestrian friendly community designs for promoting active, healthy lifestyles. The Plan addresses concerns about bike/pedestrian safety, identifies priority projects to better connect important destinations, discuss the implementation of those priority projects, and explores funding opportunities.

Other Planning Resources

Move This Way: Making Neighborhoods More Walkable and Bikeable
This is a guidebook for developing city codes that help create more active cities and towns. The guide includes specific examples of pedestrian and bicycle friendly city zoning and subdivision codes as well as policies and guidance on how to update existing codes.

Source: ChangeLab Solutions

North Carolina Guide to Incorporating Health Considerations into Comprehensive Plans
The Guide is a compilation of strategies that were researched and developed by practitioners throughout North Carolina. While the goals and strategies are tailored to North Carolina, this Guide would be useful to anyone involved with the development of comprehensive plans -- including city planners, health officials, and community residents.

Source: North Carolina Division of Public Health - North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services

Healthy Plan Making

This study is an in-depth, qualitative analysis of how public health has become a part of the municipal planning process. It provides context and background on collaboration between planning and public health departments, strategies for integrating public health-related goals and policies into the planning process, and successful mechanisms for implementation of goals and policies.

Source: American Planning Association

Last update: January 2019. New documentation shall be added as it is identified.