Walkable Communities: A Statewide Snapshot of Pedestrian Planning Efforts

By Kelly Kavanugh, MPH, CHES
Active Living Consultant
Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity

In 2015, the U.S. Surgeon General released a Call to Action to promote walking and walkable communities as a means to address the growing obesity epidemic in America. DHEC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity (DNPAO) is working to address the Surgeon General’s recommendations in South Carolina by encouraging communities to consider pedestrians in planning efforts.What is a pedestrian plan?

A pedestrian plan includes design recommendations that create a safe, healthy, and efficient environment for pedestrian commuting and recreation.

Image by Taylor Jacobs via Attribution Engine. Licensed under CC0.


Why pedestrian plans?

Communities that have a pedestrian or bicycle/pedestrian plan demonstrate purposeful insight to accommodate for pedestrians, which better positions the communities to apply for implementation and infrastructure funding. Pedestrian plans also provide a vision for the community and demonstrate community buy-in and sustainability.

What did we do?

In order to develop more walkable communities, DNPAO needed to first determine the number of pedestrian plans that currently exist across the state. Working with John M. Newman Planning, all SC jurisdictions (46 counties and 270 municipalities) were surveyed on their pedestrian planning efforts. Sixty-two percent of jurisdictions (35 counties and 161 municipalities) responded to the survey. Key findings indicate that of those jurisdictions which responded to the survey:

  • 7% have adopted a pedestrian or bicycle/pedestrian plan
  • 6% of counties and 11.2% of municipalities are currently developing a pedestrian plan
  • 2% of jurisdictions intend to develop a pedestrian plan within the next five years
  • 9% of adopted plans include access to healthy foods

Now what?

The information gathered from this survey will provide DHEC and other agencies such as the South Carolina Department of Transportation, the Metropolitan Planning Organizations, the Councils of Governments, the S.C. Association of Counties, and the Municipal Association of S.C. a snapshot of county and municipal pedestrian planning efforts across the state. The inventory data will help to identify current and future pedestrian planning needs of S.C. communities so that more thoughtful technical assistance can be provided.

How can other DHEC program areas use this information?

  • DHEC Region community health teams can use the information to determine the different stages of pedestrian planning within their communities.
  • TheDivision of Healthy Aging can assist local jurisdictions that are creating infrastructure for pedestrians with implementing the Walk With Ease Program.
  • The Bureau of Air Quality can work with communities who have adopted a pedestrian plan to consider other programs to improve air quality and quality of life in general.
  • The Division of Injury and Violence Prevention can help to identify areas that could benefit from a pedestrian plan based on previous Safe Routes to School transportation safety observations. The Division can also help new communities who may be seeking to develop pedestrian plans by helping to address safety concerns.
  • The Office of Community Health Improvement can help new communities who may be seeking to develop a pedestrian plan by identifying opportunities for coordination and integration.

To access the snapshots, please see the links below.

Statewide: http://www.scdhec.gov/library/CR-011747.pdf

County: http://www.scdhec.gov/library/CR-011843.pdf

Municipality: http://www.scdhec.gov/library/CR-011844.pdf

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