In November, the MPO sponsored Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee Chair Patrick Thorpe and Vice-Chair Tony Monk to participate in a national discussion about MPOs creating healthy and prosperous communities. Organized by Transportation for America and the American Public Health Association, the forum explored how planners prioritize transportation projects that promote choices , community health, and economic vitality.
For example, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission awards extra points to candidate projects that improve walk and bike conditions and provide access to transit. The combined effects of projects like these — often ‘complete streets’ projects — allow residents to be more physically active and to safely access businesses and services in their communities. With the average American being 27 pounds heavier today than in the 1970s, small steps like this could make a big difference.
The economic benefits of complete streets were also a major focus of the conversation. The Atlanta Regional Commission presented its Livable Centers Initiative, a matching-grant program that incentivizes local governments to re-envision their communities as vibrant, walkable places. The grant not only encourages healthy lifestyles, it also improves access to jobs and services, for people from all walks of life.
These programs are similar to the collaborations taking place locally with the Florida Department of Health, Hillsborough MPO and Planning Commission. Furthering the goals of a healthier and more vibrant community continues to be a strong focus for Plan Hillsborough.