Yoga and recumbent bicycling at an Open Streets event in Minneapolis
Engaging Ames in Complete Streets
PROJECT NEED AND ORGANIZATIONAL CAPACITY
It is important to create spaces for healthy living. There is a growing body of research showing that implementation of design strategies can impact
health (Design For Health, American Planning Association). Our local community of Ames, Iowa is recognized for a high quality of life but the
built environment was rated poorly based on data from the established 2014 County Health Rankings system; 63 of 99 counties. The most recent
Community Health Needs Assessment identified an increasing prevalence of overweight conditions in Story County between 2005 and 2010. This
led to the establishment of healthy lifestyles as a specific target in the formalized Health Improvement Plan.
Healthiest Ames is developing a process that will lead to a formalized ‘Complete Street’ policy as well as infrastructure and culture changes to promote active transportation in Ames. A successful complete streets program includes a safe and connected network of sidewalks, paths and trails, education strategies to promote pedestrian utilization, and policies that guide future development and upgradingof existing infrastructure. Because people are at the center of our coalition and complete streets, building a program requires commitment from city leaders as well as active collaboration from various community stakeholders and representatives. We have already engaged city leaders and they have pledged support for this proposal. They are in the process of updating the city transportation plan and have voiced the need for support to help identify infrastructure barriers.
Healthiest Ames is ideally positioned to achieve this vision and provide a model for broader adoption across the state. We will partner with the City of Ames, Ames Bicycle Coalition, and Iowa State University Community Design Lab. The Ames Bicycle Coalition will provide grassroots leadership and community engagement. The ISU Community Design Lab (CDL) will engage community members, and provide design research that supports policy change. The CDL partners with communities to combine local knowledge and design research to create equity and resilience.
Engage the community in envisioning possibilities
Healthiest Ames will engage the community in systems and policy change by hosting a variety of community based events to increase awareness about safe and accessible streets. These events will showcase potential infrastructure changes so that community members can experience and envision future scenarios.
Current design research demonstrates the need for grassroots involvement in community design. Based on ideas gathered at the public events, the Community Design Lab will assess and design infrastructure changes that will support increased walking and bicycling. The CDL will complete an infrastructure assessment; taking inventory and collecting data in regards to community assets, points of interest, and trail systems analysis. Investigation in community mobility and accessibility in regards to vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian circulation and open space networks will result in a set of community maps linking assets.
The CDL will then draft frameworks and scenarios for complete streets. This
work will identify key recreational opportunities based upon the infrastructure
assessment. The CDL will investigate precedents for examples of community
recreational and complete streets design strategies. This will frame future street
scenarios that will show different options for complete streets.
With public support growing from events and design best practices, we will take action to implement policy changes to support active transportation. HealthiestA mes (guided by advocates with the Ames Bike Coalition) will engage community leaders in planning, building and implementing a Complete Streets policy. This work will lead to a safe and equitable transit policy to be included in the city transportation and
comprehensive plan. It will outline specific infrastructure changes that will contribute to improving the walkability and bikeability of Ames.