Walk Toward Health with the Design 4 Active Sacramento Team

Our streets, if we used them for more walking and biking, could provide the setting for America’s reconnection with health and vitality.  That’s the dream of Design 4 Active Sacramento, a team from the public, private and nonprofit sectors that is intent on re-connecting Sacramento with an active lifestyle that is tied into the transportation system.

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The Design 4 Active Sacramento (D4AS) team includes:

  • Judy Robinson (Team Leader), Principal Planner, County of Sacramento
  • Olivia Kasiyre, MD, Sacramento County Public Health Officer
  • Adrian Engel, Project Manager, Mark Thomas and Company
  • Monica Hernanez, Project Manager, Sacramento Area Council of Governments
  • Teri Duarte, MPH, Executive Director, WALKSacramento
  • Edie Zusman, MD, FACS, FAANS, MBA, Director, Neuroscience Program Development, Eden Medical Center

D4AS was chosen this year as one of 20 teams nationwide by the US Centers for Disease Control to participate in the National Leadership Academy for the Public’s Health.  NLAPH is a 12-month training program designed to improve health outcomes in communities by guiding local leaders to influence the policies and systems that impact community health.

By focusing on the transportation system as a way to enable people to be physically active, our leaders get results that are far beyond just seeing fewer people who are overweight or who have expensive health conditions.  When people travel on foot or bicycle, they often have chance encounters with friends and neighbors that can lead to stronger social connections, reducing rates of depression, crime and violence.  As more people replace short car trips with walking or biking to get to their destinations, polluting vehicle emissions decline, resulting in cleaner air.  The less people drive, the fewer traffic accidents, injuries, and deaths occur.

The current policy work underway by the D4AS team is to develop “Active Design Guidelines” for Folsom Boulevard from Watt Avenue to Hazel Avenue.  This is part of a larger project to bring more transit-supportive development, better transit connections, and more options for housing, jobs and shopping to this corridor.   This Folsom Blvd. corridor links unincorporated Sacramento County area with the City of Sacramento, City of Rancho Cordova, and City of Folsom.  These guidelines are intended to lead planners, designers, architects, engineers and developers to design neighborhoods, streets and buildings that lead people to walk instead of drive, to choose active for recreation instead of computer games, and to use stairs instead of elevators, as examples.  All of these will also reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Future policy for D4AS is to review the County’s commercial, single-family and multi-family residential design guidelines.   They will note content in each of these guidelines that support the public’s health and propose additional language that can embolden or expand on the health benefits.

The D4AS team has plans to continue its work even after the one-year leadership program ends.  WALKSacramento may become the hub for a future coalition that takes these efforts to the next level, with more widespread engagement of local decision makers and greater influence over how our community develops in the next decade.

For more information about the D4AS team or its plans to enhance our community for walking, biking, and other healthy activities, contact Judy Robinson, Principal Planner, County of Sacramento at robinsonju@saccounty.net or Teri Duarte, Executive Director, WALKSacramento at tduarte@walksacramento.org.

Keep walking!