A number of states have developed policies to convert contaminated properties (brownfields) to greenspaces to promote healthier communities and increase physical activity opportunities. These greenspaces can be used for things such as recreation, gardening, community meeting space and natural open space. This study will examine and detail such greenspace conversions in three leading states in this area: Minnesota, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Researchers will conduct interviews and review literature to document the conversion programs and their perceived benefits. They will then design a survey to administer to officials involved in the greenspace conversions to examine and explain their experiences. In addition to documenting the state innovations and the perceived benefits, this study will also discuss obstacles faced and will list incentives that seem most beneficial in promoting greenspace conversion.
Rd 4: Case Studies of Policy Change (2004)
In 1999, Wisconsin passed the Smart Growth Law, requiring local governments with land use planning authority to design neighborhoods that reflect Smart Growth Principles. These principles, some of which may lead to increased physical activity, include neighborhood designs with a range of transportation choices, the redevelopment of existing land and structures and the utilization of more compact, efficient development patterns. This progressive law makes Wisconsin an ideal setting to study the process of reforming comprehensive plans and zoning codes that promote active living. In this study, the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech will partner with The 1000 Friends of Wisconsin to study both the state wide and local policy change processes. Special attention will be paid to the relationship between state and local governments implementing the change. Researchers will then study implementation of the plans and ordinances in 10 specific localities to assess if they have resulted in development that encourages active living.
Sites for new schools are often chosen by school boards with no input from local governments, despite the fact that local governments make land use decisions about neighborhoods and housing. If school boards and local governments could work together to place schools near neighborhoods, more children could potentially walk to school and increase physical activity. Legislation adopted by Florida in 2002 requires this collaboration between school boards and local governments. This case study will examine the effectiveness of state-mandated collaboration in Lee County, Florida to determine if it has led to a greater commitment to increasing physical activity by facilitating the development of walkable neighborhoods. This study should help other communities understand the importance of collaborative planning on school site selection.
This study details an initiative undertaken in Boston, Massachusetts to improve dilapidated city schoolyards. Through a partnership of school departments, city officials, private foundations, and others, the initiative has successfully restored over half of the city’s schoolyards with the use of limited funds. Upon restoration, the schoolyards have become one of the primary locations for outdoor physical activity in the city. By documenting the history of the initiative, conducting interviews, and reporting the challenges and lessons learned, researchers hope to provide an example for other communities to increase physical activity opportunities in their neighborhoods.
Traffic calming measures are techniques aimed at reducing vehicular traffic speeds to improve safety in pedestrian areas and neighborhoods. Several studies have suggested that walking and biking activity increases in neighborhoods that have these measures in place. This multi-site case study seeks to better understand how traffic calming can be used to promote walking and biking by describing how these types of policies have evolved in terms of scope, goals, and motivations. Multiple cases of traffic calming will be studied to assure variation between the policies and traffic calming plans. Interviews, focus groups, and surveys will be conducted, along with analysis of neighborhood traffic calming programs and plans. Strengths and weaknesses and the likely impact of these policies as a means of promoting active living will be reported and broadly disseminated.
The quality of bicycling facilities varies drastically from community to community, yet the cause of this variance remains unstudied. In this study, researchers will compare policy changes in three counties outside of Washington, D.C. They will examine how policies evolved, why different policy tools were chosen, and the consequences of those choices in each distinctive county. Documents such as master plans of communities and council meeting notes will be analyzed and several key participants will be identified and interviewed. A project timeline and details of each project such as design, construction and cost will be detailed. The comparison of the three projects should help explain the processes that led to significantly different levels of biking facilities in each county.
The case study will examine the development and implementation of an anti-violence coalition formed in response to youth violence episodes in Washington Heights, NY. Neighborhood violence and drug dealing has caused residents to limit their activity and daily walking trips outside their homes. This study will assess activity in the neighborhood before and after the outbreak of violence and will describe the efforts made by local leaders to control this violence. Interviews will be conducted with area youth, local leaders, elected officials, and other adults who live and work in the area. The case study will contribute to our understanding of the ways in which citizen mobilization can make public spaces safe for essential and recreational physical activity.
Multi-use trails built in rural and urban areas provide community residents with an accessible, low-cost means for physical activity. However, the underlying policy changes that enable or disable a community trail to be built have not yet been studied. This multi-case study will focus on the political and environmental processes that take place to facilitate the development of both urban and rural community trails within Missouri, South Carolina, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Washington. Data will be gathered via interviews, surveys and focus group discussions involving trail developers, local political leaders, stakeholders and other appropriate professionals. The different policy changes for each diverse trail will be documented and a cross-case comparison will be completed.
Located 12 miles southeast of Portland, Oregon, the Damascus/Boring area is now included in the Portland Metro urban growth boundary. A Concept Plan is underway that will serve as a guide for future development and creation of land use, transportation, natural resources and public facilities plans and policies in Damascus. For the purpose of this case study, researchers will collect data to document and investigate the impact of community involvement and early and ongoing participation of active living advocates on the planning process of the Damascus/Boring Concept Plan. Considering that the population of the Damascus area is projected to quadruple in size within the next 20 years, studying the development of the Concept Plan and its potential impact on active living systems may help guide large scale urban planning methods for other progressive communities also located on the cusp of urban areas.
Downtown living supports a more active lifestyle with more walkable destinations such as work, recreation facilities and retail outlets. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is reported to have the highest number of downtown households in the nation and has a high percentage (37%) of residents walking to work. This study will detail the public policy innovations that stimulated downtown living in Philadelphia between 1990 -2000. The nature of each policy innovation will be studied and information about the efficiency and advantages and disadvantages of each will be reported. The history and evolution of the policy innovations will be detailed along with execution, economic information, and an assessment of the effectiveness of various policies. A framework will be provided to serve as an example to other cities contemplating or employing a similar policy approach to draw residents to downtown living.