Healthy Hampshire aims to increase opportunities for walking, biking, and physical recreation in our communities. We work with municipal leaders to assess and recommend policies that promote "active transportation" such as walking and bicycling, as well as use of community space for physical recreation. We also train community members to be advocates for community design and policies that promote active living.
Designing communities and forming partnerships to increase access to physical activity goes a long way in supporting the health of community residents. When communities are designed to promote walking and biking as a primary goal, those communities provide everyday opportunities for residents to get the exercise they need. When community spaces are available for residents to engage in physical recreation, even residents who can’t afford a traditional gym membership can still take advantage. These changes to a community’s built environment help residents live actively so that they increase their overall quality of life while also reducing their risk of obesity and chronic diseases.
Walking and Biking Promotion in Community Plans
Healthy Hampshire supports pedestrian and bicycle access by integrating walking and biking promotion into community plans and planning processes. We provide coordinative support to communities wishing to create a standalone Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan or integrate active transportation goals and guidelines into community plans.
Healthy Hampshire supports a Complete Streets transportation system that encourages all modes of transportation—including transit, walking, and bicycling, which have traditionally been weak links in the area. Healthy Hampshire is supporting these efforts to improve active and healthy living for all and to provide viable transportation for isolated people without access to single-occupancy vehicles through a complete streets policy approach. Through the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s (MassDOT) Complete Streets Funding Program, communities can access training and technical assistance to pass complete streets policies, which then allow them to qualify for complete streets infrastructure project funding. Mass in Motion communities can receive free technical assistance from a variety of state-wide providers. See the Complete StreetsTechnical Assistance Fact Sheet for more information.
In 2016, Healthy Hampshire worked with Alta Planning + Design to develop a Complete Streets Design Guide for local planners, engineers and advocates to improve the walkability and bikability of roadways in their communities and create safer streets for users of all ages and abilities. The guide can be used to help communities identify appropriate Complete Streets design elements for a variety thoroughfares ranging from local roads in densely settled areas to state highways with high traffic volumes and speeds.
Healthy Hampshire offers workshops, often in conjunction with WalkBoston, for resident advocates interested in learning more about how community design impacts health. We use walk and bicycle audits as tools in this process. Residents are invited to come together and enjoy a workshop on community design, then hit the streets and collect data on infrastructure accessibility, safety, and utilization patterns from their own lived perspective. Information gathered during the audit is then debriefed between participants over lunch, and the data is compiled into a report to municipal leaders. The continued involvement of Healthy Hampshire and resident advocates ensures that the data is used during decision-making processes at the municipal level.
Healthy Community Design
The built environment—everything around us that is shaped by humans—has a profound effect on our health. Building design and location, streets and transportation systems, parks and natural spaces collectively define how we interact with one another, how we get from one place to the next, and what goods and services are available to us. Healthy Community Design looks at how to create and manage the built environment in a way that maximizes health. Healthy Hampshire works with communities to consider the health impacts of decisions related to the use and siting of new buildings, how streetscapes are designed, and connectivity within transportation pedestrian, bicycle and public transportation networks.
Also known as shared use or joint use, community use is the practice of making spaces available to the public when they are usually closed. Buildings, grounds, and other spaces that have a main purpose can be used by populations that don’t normally use the space, or populations that use the space can access it at hours that they normally could not. Two entities sharing a space, such as a school and a town, decide how the arrangement is going to work by drafting a joint use agreement. A joint use agreement is a simple contract that lays out the responsibilities of all parties involved in the initiative. Healthy Hampshire encourages joint use agreements in our member communities for the purpose of physical recreation. Working with the Harvard Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, we host trainings to educate municipal employees and community leaders on the benefits and best practices of community use for increasing opportunities to play and exercise.
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