Healthy Community Design

smiling woman and man riding bikesJoint Call to Action to Promote Healthy Communities

APHA pledges our support to the Joint Call to Action to Promote Healthy Communities (PDF) by challenging our members to work together with built environment professionals to plan, build and support healthy communities. 

What is healthy community design?

The built environment is the human-made features of our communities — sidewalks, public transportation, housing and more. The way we design and build our communities affects our physical and mental health. When communities have plenty of walkable sidewalks and bike-friendly routes for kids to take to school, students are more active. When people can walk where they need to go, car traffic decreases, and that can improve air quality and respiratory health. When children live in homes that do not contain lead or asthma triggers, they are better able to grow and develop. 

We believe everyone deserves healthy communities. Those are communities where everyone has a safe and healthy home, everyone has access to safe and healthy food and decision-makers consider health and equity when making transportation and land-use decision.

APHA co-sponsors the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference and serves as a member of the Smart Growth Network. We support the work of APHA's Environment Section and its Building Healthy Communities Topic Committee activities.

APHA works with partners like America Walks and Transportation for America to promote active transportation. We also partner with the American Planning Association on Plan4Health, which encourages sustainable, cross-sector coalitions working with communities to increase access to healthy food and opportunities for active living. 

Built Environment and Transportation System Efforts Can Increase Physical Activity

The Community Preventive Services Task Force has issued a new recommendation to increase physical activity through built environment approaches that combine transportation system interventions with land use and environmental design. This recommendation supports multi-sector collaboration with transportation, land use and community design professionals to advance positive health outcomes.

Interactive Website Showcasing Bicycling and Walking Data

A website explores the Bicycling and Walking in the United States: 2016 Benchmarking Report, which traces the rise of walking and bicycling across the nation. APHA and the Institute of Transportation Engineers, in partnership with the League of American Bicyclists, created the website to make critical report data more accessible and user-friendly. Funding for the website was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Federal Highway Administration. Check out the Benchmarking Report website and explore how your state and city rank in the active transportation movement!

Case Studies — Integrating public health in metro area planning agencies

A new set of case studies by Transportation for America, with support from APHA, showcases a range of strategies that metro area planning agencies can use to strengthen the local economy, improve public health outcomes for all of their residents, promote social equity and better protect the environment. Visit their website to read these four case studies or listen to this webinar about the case studies. 

Stories from the Field

Transportation and Health Tool

The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with support from APHA, partnered on the development of a simple-to-use Transportation and Health Tool. Learn more about the Transportation and Health Tool, and assess your own community! 

Questions? Please contact Kate Robb, MSPH

Find out more about:




Urban Planning and Public Health: A Critical Partnership

Partnering to Promote Healthy Communities

Promoting Healthy Communities