Walkable Community


Our cities were once designed on a human scale. As more and more people took to the roads, the suburbs quickly became the new frontier. The result: urban sprawl so expansive it could not be walked in a single day. The impact on the human body has been devastating. Our days are spent sitting at our desk, in our cars and on the couch. We were not made to sit around all day.

After 75 years of planning that produces a sedentary lifestyle, a radical redesign of our cities and open space has begun. Parks and paths are making a comeback to create truly walkable communities through partnerships between local residents, businesses, developers, municipalities, urban planners and health care providers.

How can you make YOUR community more walkable? 

Individuals have to make the decision to walk. However, the decision can be made easier by improvements to community walkability and by programs and policies that provide opportunities and encouragement for walking. In addition to encouraging walking, these changes can help communities by improving safety, social cohesion, and local economies and by reducing air pollution.

walking man
Design Communities that make it safe and easy for Iowans of all ages and abilities to walk

People should be able to walk almost anywhere. Designing communities to encourage pedestrian activity will make it safer and easier for all users, including those with mobility limitations and other disabilities. For example, streets can be designed to include sidewalks and improve traffic safety, and communities can locate residences, schools, worksites, businesses, parks, recreational facilities, and other places that people regularly use within walkable distance of each other. 

Walking man 
Promote Programs and Policies to Support Walking Where People Live, Learn, Work, and Play

Walking is easiest when it is built into everyday activities and locations where people spend their time, such as worksites, schools, faith-based organizations, health clubs, parks, and senior centers. This can be done by providing accessible places to walk, offering walking programs, and implementing supportive policies. For example, schools can promote walk-to-school programs and make gyms and fields available to the public. Worksites can establish walking clubs for their employees. Communities can offer walking programs that address barriers such as mobility limitations. 

Walking man
Provide Information to Encourage Walking and Improve Walkability

Easy-to-understand and relevant information about how walking can provide substantial health benefits can motivate people to walk. People also need information about the location of safe places to walk. Professionals from a variety of disciplines can be trained on the importance of walking and how to promote it within their profession. 

Benefits of Cities Designed to Move