Transportation Matters for Main Streets


Active, Accessible, and Social

"Everyone should have access to spaces and places that make it safe and easy for us to walk...Walkable communities are good for social connectedness, good for business, good for the environment, and, most importantly, good for our personal health."
-U.S. Surgeon General, Vivek H. Murthy

The design of our streets can have profound impacts on public health outcomes. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization shows that a person’s physical environment (i.e. the place a person lives and the streets they use to get around) has a greater impact on their overall health than biology, behaviors, or healthcare. The way streets are designed affects access to healthy food, green environments, healthcare services, and to the social opportunities that connect us with other people in the community. Street design also impacts our ability to choose active modes of transportation, like walking and biking.

Being the central hub and connector for a downtown, Main Street can offer the opportunity for residents to access these health-related resources, services, and activities. In this position, Main Streets can play an important role in fostering a culture of health, both directly and by example.

Car-oriented streets can have negative impacts on health:
  • Physical inactivity
  • Lack of access to healthy food
  • Limited healthcare access
  • Social isolation
  • Air, light, and noise pollution
  • Avoidable traffic-related injuries and deaths
Streets designed and planned for the needs of all people can have positive health outcomes:
  • Expanded participation in physical activity
  • Increased access to healthy foods
  • Preventative healthcare at every stage of life
  • Community culture of health
  • Supported mental health


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