244181 Urban pathways to healthy neighborhoods: Strategies to encourage physical activity in underserved communities

Monday, October 31, 2011: 11:24 AM

Kelly Pack, MS , Trail Development, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Washington, DC
Jeff Ciabotti , Trail Development, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Washington, DC
Stephen Miller , Trail Development, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Washington, DC
Lindsay Martin , Trail Development, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Washington, DC
Low-income populations and people of color suffer disproportionately from the effects of lack of physical activity. Social and built environmental factors like high crime rates, lack of access to play area and parks, and greater traffic-related risks due to busy streets and inadequate pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure contribute to inactivity. Urban pathways (i.e. multi-use trails/greenways) in low-income neighborhoods are challenged by these factors but present unique opportunities to improve built environment features and enhance individual motivation for physical activity. This session describes Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's (RTC) Urban Pathways Initiative (UPI), a program that assesses the built environment and existing social conditions of trailside neighborhoods and actively engages community members to guide public policy decisions about infrastructure investments while simultaneously implementing programmatic strategies to encourage physical activity. Drawing from place-based UPI project work experience in seven U.S. cities, we will discuss strategies designed to encourage trail use that address: perceptions of the built environment; individual motivating factors of physical activity; and social characteristics of trailside neighborhoods while illustrating how these strategies strengthen local public-private partnerships. Discussion will also highlight program evaluation methods including trail counts and surveying techniques. This session also demonstrates how RTC's community-based project work is complemented by a national online network for neighborhood advocates and planning professionals involved in trail planning, management and programming. We will discuss our multi-tiered approach to engaging community groups and trail managers in a process that encourages community ownership of the trail and aims to increase physical activity among nearby residents.

Learning Areas:
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Program planning

Learning Objectives:
1)Design trailside neighborhood assessments and identify programmatic techniques for encouraging physical activity on urban pathways. 2)Demonstrate appropriate methods of evaluation to measure success of programmatic interventions for encouraging physical activity on urban pathways.

Keywords: Environment, Physical Activity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I manage projects associated with physical activity promotion and evaluation of the built environment.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.