Street design plays an important role in either supporting or hindering active transportation and physical activity. People feel safer walking and biking on streets with sidewalks, bike lanes and bike paths, crosswalks, slow traffic speeds, and lighting. Research shows that people are more likely to walk on streets with high-quality sidewalks, and more likely to bike on streets with bike lanes or bike paths.
State Complete Streets policies require the department of transportation to consider the needs of people who walk and bike when they design, build, and operate streets. These policies can have wide-ranging benefits, improving safety and promoting active lifestyles, encouraging economic growth and sustainability, and reducing environmental burdens. In this report, we evaluated states based on whether the state has adopted a Complete Streets policy; we also graded states based on the strength of the policy itself. For example, state policies that include language like “shall” or “must” and that specify implementation steps are stronger than policies that refer to general Complete Streets principles without defining the specific outcomes or processes to be followed.
The report finds that overall, 34 states have some form of Complete Streets policy in place, with two new states adopting policies since 2017. New to the 2018 report cards is our analysis of the specific type of Complete Streets policy: whether the state has adopted legislation or a transportation department policy, or both, and the strength of the language within the policy for including mandatory requirements for active transportation infrastructure.
Shared use agreements allow a school to open up its playgrounds and fields for public use outside of school hours. Since schools are often centrally located in a community, this provides community members with a convenient and free place to play and get physical activity. Research shows that the number of children who are physically active outside is 84 percent higher when school playgrounds and fields are kept open for public use outside of school hours, so these types of agreements have the potential to greatly increase physical activity in a community.
Our report graded states on whether they have adopted a state policy supporting shared use of school facilities and whether the state provides funding or incentives in support of shared use. The results of the 2018 Report Cards were encouraging: 46 states either encourage or require schools to allow access outside of school hours; additionally, the number of states providing funding or incentives for shared use increase from two in 2016 to 13 in 2018.