Bicycling and Walking

Studies have shown that the prevalence of obesity in America and other affluent countries is directly related to lifestyle patterns. To promote physical activity, public health professionals and policymakers are exploring ways in which our traditional transportation and pedestrian infrastructures can be revamped so people can meet recommended levels of physical activity.

Historically, local planners and engineers have created roads with one use in mind: driving a car. “Auto-centric” road design can discourage active living, such as walking to the grocery store or biking to the park. A growing number of communities are asking their local planners and engineers to “complete their streets,” by planning, designing, upgrading and building road networks that are safe and accessible for drivers, pedestrians, public transit riders and bicyclists, regardless of age or ability.

Public health lawyers, working with other public health professionals, city planners, and local stakeholders can help craft Complete Streets policies and related initiatives that meet a community’s transportation, safety, economic and public health needs. They can work within the community to ensure that policy directives are clear, unambiguous, broad, and flexible. The directives should also contain specific implementation steps, deadlines, and accountability measures, such as reporting requirements.


Featured resources are below. Other relevant resources in right sidebar (desktop/tablet), or end of page (mobile).

Girl riding a bike

Safe Routes To School - 50 State Review

Safe Routes to School initiatives help communities and schools build safer sidewalks and crosswalks to increase walking and bicycling. The Public Health Law Center completed a 50-state review of Safe Routes to School state government initiatives, highlighting the laws in each state for easy review by advocates and policy makers.

Girl on a bike

Pedestrian and Bicyclist Rights (2013)

The ability of pedestrians and bicyclists to safely and effectively travel depends on all forms of traffic understanding and following these laws. This fact sheet identifies essential rights and responsibilities of different types of traffic that support safe pedestrian and bicycle travel.


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