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“Everyone should be able to choose how they get around”: how Topeka, Kansas, passed a complete streets resolution.

BACKGROUND: Regular physical activity can help prevent chronic diseases, yet only half of US adults meet national physical activity guidelines. One barrier to physical activity is a lack of safe places to be active, such as bike paths and sidewalks. Complete Streets, streets designed to enable safe access for all users, can help provide safe places for activity.COMMUNITY CONTEXT: This community case study presents results from interviews with residents and policymakers of Topeka, Kansas, who played an integral role in the passage of a Complete Streets resolution in 2009. It describes community engagement processes used to include stakeholders, assess existing roads and sidewalks, and communicate with the public and decision-makers.METHODS: Key informant interviews were conducted with city council members and members of Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods in Topeka to learn how they introduced a Complete Streets resolution and the steps they took to ensure its successful passage in the City Council. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed by using focused-coding qualitative analysis.OUTCOME: Results included lessons learned from the process of passing the Complete Streets resolution and advice from participants for other communities interested in creating Complete Streets in their communities.INTERPRETATION: Lessons learned can apply to other communities pursuing Complete Streets. Examples include clearly defining Complete Streets; educating the public, advocates, and decision-makers about Complete Streets and how this program enhances a community; building a strong and diverse network of supporters; and using stories and examples from other communities with Complete Streets to build a convincing case.

Authors: Dodson, Elizabeth A EA; Langston, Marvin M; Cardick, Lauren C LC; Johnson, Nancy N; Clayton, Paula P; Brownson, Ross C RC

Preventing chronic disease. 2014 Feb 20;11(9):E25. Epub 2014-02-20.

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