Active Transportation Collaboration Presents Recommendations to Help Neighborhoods Increase Walking and Bicycling

SDSU Landscape Architecture students, under the direction of Professor Don Burger, presented findings on Thursday, April 25, 2019, from built environment assessments conducted earlier this year in the Hawthorne and Lowell Elementary neighborhoods in Sioux Falls and the Endeavor Elementary neighborhood in Harrisburg.

This work began in January after Sioux Falls and Harrisburg were selected for the 2019 Active Transportation Assessment Collaboration, a partnership between the South Dakota Department of Health (SD DOH), SDSU Landscape Architecture Program (SDSU-LA), and community leaders and multidisciplinary stakeholders from Sioux Falls and Harrisburg. The students completed site visits and walking assessments in the Pettigrew Heights and Cathedral neighborhoods in central Sioux Falls, as well as in the neighborhood around Endeavor Elementary in Harrisburg. They also conducted two open houses for the public to provide input and suggestions on improving the walkability and bikeability of each neighborhood. After completing the initial assessments, they continued their analysis and developed recommendations during the spring semester of their city planning coursework.

By assessing the built environment, including sidewalks, pedestrian crosswalks, parks, and other structures, the students gathered information to help local policymakers and community leaders promote active transportation, which is the integration of physical activity into daily routines such as walking or biking to destinations like work, school, grocery stores, or parks. Key themes in the students’ findings include:

  • Implement traffic calming methods, especially around schools, to enhance safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers.
  • Include streetscaping, such as trees or other vegetation, to create areas that are more inviting to pedestrians.
  • Utilize the bike trail system to enhance connections between Sioux Falls and Harrisburg and provide additional access to off-trail destinations, such as schools, parks, or other public spaces.
  • Explore enhancements to crosswalks, pedestrian-scale lighting, pedestrian and bicycle signage (“wayfinding”), and sidewalk buffers to improve safety and encourage more people to walk and bike to destinations.

Through this collaboration, the SD DOH fulfills its mission to implement evidenced-based public health approaches to increase physical activity. The students gain real-world experience in their chosen fields, and the communities of Sioux Falls and Harrisburg receive a set of active transportation recommendations at no cost. For more information about this project, please contact Live Well Sioux Falls at livewellsiouxfalls.org.

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