Stepping It Up

Curated by Landscape Architecture Foundation

The U.S. Surgeon General’s recent “Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities” highlights the impact that planning and design have on physical activity. As the projects and research here illustrate, factors like connectivity, access, lighting, and aesthetics have a strong influence on our decisions to walk for transportation and recreation. Landscape solutions are essential to create quality pedestrian environments that encourage people to get out, get active, and leave the car behind.

  1. Case Study Brief


    Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail

    Atlanta, Georgia

    “As the first built segment of the monumental Atlanta BeltLine (adaptive reuse of a 22-mile abandoned railroad corridor), the 2.25-mile Eastside Trail attracts an average of 3,000-10,000 users per day. 90% of survey respondents said that the trail provides them with an active lifestyle benefit, and 70% said they exercise more since the trail opened.”
  2. Case Study Brief

    Buffalo Bayou-After

    Buffalo Bayou Promenade

    Houston, Texas

    “River restoration can take place in the least likely (or conventionally scenic) places. This formerly derelict space under a freeway was remade into a thriving waterfront trail in Houston, Texas. Buffalo Bayou Promenade is a prime example of using an area that is perceived as undesirable to improve connectivity and revitalize a valuable natural resource. The project linked the north and south sides of the bayou for the first time, provides 1.4 miles of pedestrian trails that give access to 20 miles of revitalized bayou, and affords increased flood storage capacity for the city. ”
  3. Case Study Brief


    Daybreak Community

    South Jordan, Utah

    “A 2011 study by the University of Utah Department of Family and Consumer Studies concluded that 88% of students in this new mixed-use community walk or bike to school! For the case study, this performance metric was then expanded to include metrics for auto trip and carbon emission reductions, and gallons of fuel saved from walking instead of driving.”
  4. Case Study Brief

    Dutch Kills-After

    Dutch Kills Green

    New York, New York

    “Margie Ruddick, ASLA, founded Margie Ruddick Landscape to blend ecology with with city planning in gardens, parks, and waterfronts. Winner of the 2013 Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award in landscape architecture, she has forged a design language that integrates ecology and culture. Dutch Kills Green promotes a new idea of nature in the city, where storm water, wind, sun, and habitat merge within an urban infrastructure to create a more sustainable vision of urban life. ”
  5. Fast Fact

    “Walkable neighborhoods make it easy to build physical activity into everyday routines. In this San Diego study, walking for errands amounted to 70 more minutes of exercise per week. The walkable neighborhoods also had a lower prevalence of obesity, even after adjusting for individuals’ ages and education levels.”
  6. Fast Fact

    “More and more commuters are choosing active transportation for the freedom and opportunity to build-in exercise. And other studies have shown that a higher percentage of people opt for biking and walking in places with appropriate infrastructure like wide sidewalks, trails, and bike lanes.”
  7. Fast Fact

    “Physical factors play a role for those looking to walk for exercise. In this study, total time walking was lower for walking program participants who perceived street lighting or aesthetics to be low. Motivational aids like pedometers can help to offset, but not completely overcome, these barriers. ”
  8. Fast Fact

    “Walking isn’t just about physical activity; it has also been linked to a variety of mental health benefits. But to get these benefits, the quality of the surrounding environment is critical. Studies like this one show that stress reduction, attention restoration, and mood are all improved when walking through a natural environment, while walking in urban environments has a lesser (or opposite!) effect. ”

Recreational & social value, Health & well-being, Safety, Transportation, Traffic calming, Trail, Active living, Complete streets, Green communities

Help build the LPS: Find out how to submit a case study and other ways to contribute.