Elected Officials

Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper- And Healthier Webinar Report

On April 23, 2015, America Walks offered a webinar titled “Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper And Healthier.” Transforming the built environment to improve health outcomes can take years, if not decades. The webinar focused on short term, low cost, yet high impact strategies for improving streets, public spaces, and buildings across the country that can lead to longer-term change. Kate Rube and her team at Project for Public Spaces, along with Jennifer Smith from Greater Kennedy Plaza, presented health-promoting ‘Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper’ approaches, including active recreation amenities, street redesigns that prioritize people, and farmers’ market stands. The webinar challenged participants to create great public places that attract people and provide multiple ways to improve health in their own communities. To download this report, Click Here. To view a recording of the webinar, Click Here.

America Walks received many questions and comments from attendees. Kate Rube and Kelly Verel of Project for Public Spaces offered their expertise to help continue the conversation and answer the questions below.

Do you have any advice/strategies to work with city government to support these efforts? I’m wondering specifically with the wayfinding signage- it’s technically against our city ordinance to put up this type of signage and I’m wondering how other cities have handle similar obstacles…and/or if they have had any success changing city policy to support the signage.

City policies are a common barrier to many of the Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper (LQC) strategies included in the webinar, unfortunately. There are two options – you can work with the City to change that policy banning signage, or you can move forward without permission and see what the reaction is to wayfinding signage. Read about how this exact issue in Raleigh, NC gained traction: http://www.citylab.com/design/2015/02/diy-wayfinding-signs-are-about-to-go-mainstream/386081/

It would be great if examples included smaller cities and rural communities.

Many of the LQC examples given can be used in smaller cities/rural communities – the population doesn’t really make a difference. Farmers markets are found all over the US – in all sizes of communities – and should consider any one of the examples given in the PPT. One way a rural community may even try something a little different at a farmers market is to invite backyard growers to sell or even give away excess produce (who doesn’t have too much summer squash/zucchini in August) at their local farmers market. For these tactics to work you don’t need large, urban communities – you need suitable public spaces and willing community members to make them happen.

It would be interesting to see some examples for suburban communities that are not walkable.

Similar to smaller cities/rural communities mentioned above, our suburbs are also home to farmers markets and any one of them could try any of the Healthy LQC methods that we suggest. On the transportation side of things, some strategies to consider are creating or enhancing small destinations – mini-parks, plazas, markets, etc. within people’s neighborhoods that people can walk or bike to safely. Many of the strategies included in the webinar – striping for bike lanes, for example, or wayfinding signage, can be utilized in suburban areas.

Any suggestions for encouraging churches to allow use of their often huge parking lots that go unutilized 6 out of 7 days of the week? Follow-up comment. Churches often cite liability concerns as the reason for saying ‘no’. 

We don’t have very much experience working directly with churches, but they are certainly great potential spaces because they are larger underused 5-6 days of the week. Is there a way that the organizing entity can take over partial liability for the event, much as a special event does, e.g, a festival, carnival, etc.? A good model could be the joint use agreements developed for many school playgrounds that have dealt with liability concerns for use of the space during non-school hours. See: http://changelabsolutions.org/publications/what-is-JUA

What is the quickest ROI for communities to achieve the safest streets? What about 7 lane roads? Medians are expensive, yet people still need to cross these streets without getting killed. What do you suggest??

It’s hard to define a specific solution without knowing the context and issues of a site. You could look at some of the resources FHWA has for prioritizing safety improvements:

1) http://pedbikesafe.org/
2) http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/systemic/